Not crushing aluminum cans before recycling them may seem wrong, but keeping them whole is actually better for the environment.

Crushing aluminum cans is more than just fun-it means the can will take up less space, right? Not so fast.

How can crushing cans affect the recycling process?

You shouldn’t crush cans in a single-stream system.

That’s because it’s harder for the electrical current which helps separate out aluminum cans at municipal recycling facilities to identify them as cans when they’re crushed.

In addition, factors at recycling facilities can come into play. “The design, age of the facility, and desired targeted commodities all fluctuate, so that can impact aluminum sorting as well,” notes Meredith Leahy, waste diversion and circular solutions manager at Rubicon Global.