Recycling Partnership Between Habitat for Humanity and the Aluminum Association Makes the American Dream a Reality, One Can at a Time

This Homeownership Month, Habitat for Humanity Affiliates Prove That You

Can Protect the Environment and Build Homes for Those in Need

Jun 01, 2004, 01:00 ET from Aluminum Association

    WASHINGTON, June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- This June, in honor of Homeownership
 Month, Americans can do their part to help ease the strain on millions of
 households, in a unique yet easy way -- through recycling.
     When Habitat for Humanity International, one of the world's leading
 charitable organizations, joined forces with the Aluminum Association in 1997,
 they had a simple mission: to help eradicate substandard housing with money
 earned by recycling aluminum cans.  With this goal in mind, the national Cans
 for Habitat recycling program was created.
     Since its inception, nearly 570 Habitat affiliates and 2,000 recycling
 centers have joined the Cans for Habitat program.  As a result, more than 7.5
 million pounds of aluminum cans have been recycled by and for Habitat
 affiliates -- an equivalent of $2.6 million, all of which has gone to the
 construction of more than 56 Habitat houses.
     "Cans for Habitat is a critical fundraising and awareness-building tool
 for Habitat for Humanity in countless communities across the country," said
 Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International.
 "More than 50 families have become homeowners thanks to Cans for Habitat and
 countless others have been touched by this program, whether through
 volunteering as a can collector, building a home or recycling cans at home or
 work. I look forward to watching this program expand to further create a
 bridge between the average consumer and charitable involvement."
     While the 66 percent national homeownership rate is a positive indicator
 of a stable economy, there are still 36.5 million people (nearly 14 percent of
 the population) who live below the official government poverty level and
 cannot afford simple, decent housing, according to Habitat for Humanity
 International. These Americans can barely make ends meet and are often forced
 to choose between paying rent and buying food or clothing. And with rising
 housing costs in many parts of the country, this issue is far from resolved.
     Habitat affiliates across the nation are using the Cans for Habitat
 program as a way to increase community participation surrounding this
     In 2003, two Indiana affiliates, Habitat of Evansville, Inc., and Warrick
 County Habitat for Humanity, set a world record in the Guinness Book of
 Records for the most aluminum cans recycled in an eight-hour period during the
 "You Otter Recycle Your Cans" event.  The affiliates partnered with the
 Evansville Otters, a local minor league baseball team and several other
 businesses for the event, which raised more than 1,600 in recycled cans.  The
 affiliates are currently planning for the second annual event in mid-July
     "We hope that our success will challenge other affiliates to beat our
 record and recycle more for Habitat, said Sally Gries, community relations
 director of the Evansville affiliate.  "Of course we'd hate to lose our
 current standing as Guinness Book record-holders, but our primary goal is to
 benefit the Cans for Habitat program.  We are living proof that this kind of
 achievement is within reach."
     Randy Fillmore, executive director at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity in
 Fort Wayne, Ind., has also experienced longstanding success with his
 affiliate's recycling program.  In 2003, thanks to the help of two lunchroom
 monitors at a local school, the affiliate began a school can competition that
 grew to include all 17 schools in the Fort Wayne area.  The school that
 recycles the most aluminum cans during the school year (October-May) wins a
 day with the local minor league baseball team, which includes food,
 refreshments and a day at the ballpark.  The runner-up wins a pizza party.
     "We are really pleased with the community participation surrounding this
 program," said Fillmore.  "The 2003-2004 school year generated more than
 21,000 lbs. of aluminum cans.  Next year we expect to see even more."
     Despite these accomplishments, there remains room for growth.  In fact, 50
 billion cans were not recycled in 2002.  This number could have built 11,111
 Habitat houses across the nation, assuming the rate of one penny per can and
 the average cost of building a Habitat home in the United States at $45,000.
     One solution, suggests Cans for Habitat representatives, is to target
 youth as an effective way of increasing participation and, subsequently, the
 success of the program.
     "Cans for Habitat offers youth the perfect way to take an active role in
 their communities," said Steve Thompson, Cans for Habitat program director.
 "In many cases, Habitat volunteers must be at least 16 years of age to
 volunteer at a build site, but anyone can recycle.  This program provides
 youth with a unique way to help their neighbors, while preserving the
 environment.  That's something we can all take pride in."
     In 2003, the Cans for Habitat program awarded $167,500 in grants to 17
 Habitat affiliates throughout the United States as part of the annual grant
 competition.  The grants were given to affiliates that successfully
 demonstrated their commitment to the Cans for Habitat program through
 innovative partnerships and efforts in recycling and publicity.  This number
 contributes to the more than $1.5 million in grant money awarded since the
 first grant competition in 1998.
     Local affiliates, volunteers, recyclers, national and local retail outlets
 and civic organizations work together to "Make Every Can Count!"  For more
 information on Cans for Habitat and how you can donate your cans to Habitat,
 visit the Cans for Habitat Web site at

SOURCE Aluminum Association