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Tin Recycling

Tin is a valuable metal that is used in the manufacture of a number or everyday items, including tin cans, solder and bronze items and pewter products. Tin recycling is an interesting process, and this article takes a brief look at some tin recycling facts that you may not be aware of.


  • Tin cans were previously called ‘tinned’ cans, after the process of tinning foods.

  • Tin cans are not made solely from tin. They are mostly made out of steel, with a thin coat of tin applied to solder the side seams together and to prevent the steel from rusting.

  • Early tin cans were soldered with a tin-lead alloy, which can cause lead poisoning. This practice was soon stopped.

  • Despite tin’s corrosion-resistant properties, acidic foods like fruit and vegetables are capable of corroding the tin layer in a can.

  • Tin cans taken to a recycling plant are ‘detinned’ by dipping them in a caustic chemical solution known as sodium stannate, which dissolves the tin from the steel.

  • The steel is then baled into squares and shipped off to steel mills to be melted down and made into other products.

  • The tin is subjected to electrolysis, a process where electricity is used to attract the dissolved tin in the sodium stannate solution onto a metal plate in a bath. When enough tin has attached itself, it is then melted off the plate and cast into ingots. These ingots are 99.98% pure tin.

  • The global tin recycling rate is estimated to be around 8%.

  • The main form of tin reuse is in brass, bronze and solder alloys.

  • Recycling tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to make them.

  • Americans use 100 million tin cans every single day.

  • Recycling 1 ton of tin saves approximately 1.5 tons of tin ore from having to be mined.

  • Tin recycling saves an average of 2,600 kilowatt hours of energy per ton.

  • One recycled tin can saves enough energy to run a television for up to three hours.

  • Creative tin can recycling ideas in your home include pen and stationery holders, herb and seedling planters and ready-made metal sleeves for patching leaking pipes.


So there you have it; the complete lowdown on tin. Like most metals it can be fully recycled, and the amazing thing is it can be done over and over again ad infinitum, meaning that theoretically if we had enough tin to start with we would never have to mine it again..


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It's better for the environment. 100% of the paper we shred is recycled into new paper products. If you do your own paper shredding, chances are your paper, shredded or un-shredded, probably leaves your office by way of a dumpster.


Phone: 806-341-5536  |  Fax: 415-226-6467