Thursday, February 7, 2008

Aluminum Foil: Reynolds vs. Recycled

For years I have been recycling my aluminum foil and pans. I assumed that they were made from recycled aluminum. Then I noticed that Whole Foods sold recycled aluminum foil. So I did a little investigating to see what aluminum foil is made of and the difference between the well known Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil compared to If You Care recycled aluminum foil.

I discovered that aluminum, unlike plastics, can be recycled over and over again without loosing quality. In addition, mining bauxite, the basic building block of aluminum, is very taxing on the environment. Additionally, producing new aluminum consumes a lot of energy per pound. Recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy to produce.

According to the EPA, there is 3.3 million tons of aluminum in the municipal waste stream, a.k.a. the landfill. That is equal to almost 100 million soda cans or 20 million rolls of recycled aluminum foil.* That is a lot of BBQing.

Reynolds, as boasted on their website, is 98.5% aluminum and "contains no recycled materials." Alcoa, the makers of Reynolds Wrap foil, is the world's largest producer of aluminum. On the flip side, If You Care is made of 100% recycled material aluminum.

How does the recycled foil compare to non-recycled in the kitchen? Well, you can definitly tell the difference in feel right out of the box. The recycled foil is much thinner, however, for cooking it made no difference. You can still cover your food the same way.

So do I like it? Would I recommend it? Yes, I'd recommend it. Its not as sturdy as Reynolds Wrap, but it does the job. And for me, the most important thing is the long-term impact of my buying decisions on the environment. So am I willing to forgo a bit of tensile strength in my aluminum foil for a better world? Heck yes. And you should too.

Recycled aluminum foil can be purchased online or in most supermarkets like Whole Foods.

To read more go to Grist.

*Calculated by my husband who is not a math wiz.


Laura said...

Reynolds now offers a Recycled aluminum product with the same properties as their regular aluminum. They just announced the new product at and it's already available in stores nationwide.

Marona said...

I wonder if you could do a comparison b/t Reynolds recycled and If You Care recycled. I started using Reynolds recycled and I'm unsure of the difference between that and the original brand. The only thing I notice is a bit of discoloration after I've covered freshly cooked food. As long as that doesn't pose a health concern I'm fine with using recycled aluminum foil. As you stated, it's better for the environment.