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We have a big problem with metal recycling in the United States. Metal is easy to recycle, but so many people don’t know where to recycle it. So instead, metal ends up in garbage cans, on the side of the road, and in the ocean.  Did you know that only 45% of aluminum beverage cans are recycled in the United States even though they are 100% recyclable?

But it’s not just aluminum; all metal can be recycled, yet much of it isn’t. A group of us (Brad, a metal recycling guru; Shaziya, a school teacher; and Jessica, a scuba diver) decided it was time to make a lasting, positive impact on the health of our planet. We want to start this mission by educating children about why recycling is important and spreading the word on how metal recycling can be easy for everyone. We founded Scrap University Kids in April 2022 to tackle the metal recycling problem together.

Scrap University Kids

At Scrap University Kids, we are committed to teaching children that their everyday actions make a lasting impact on the environment. If more people make the effort to use recyclable materials like metal cans — and then recycle those materials when they’re done with them — we can preserve valuable resources and reduce landfill waste. Our goal is to eliminate metal from the waste stream within the next 30 years through education.

What’s the first step in our mission? It involves books and storytelling. We just published our first picture book for children grades K–4. The Girl Who Recycled 1 Million Cans is a fun tale that educates children about the environmental and financial benefits of metal recycling. The engaging story takes young readers on the journey of a girl who wants to buy a unicorn with the proceeds from recycling 1 million cans.

The next books in the series will broaden kids’ awareness and understanding of metals, how they’re recycled, and why it’s important to never throw metal in the garbage. We are starting with storybooks but will also have fun online classes and a cartoon series about metal recycling.

Teaching Kids About Recycling

We want to make recycling fun and easy for kids. Let’s work together and start educating our young children by joining Ellie and her friends on an adventure to collect 1 million cans. With the help of our mascot Mr. Ferrous Magglio the talking magnet, readers learn that all metal can be recycled. Soon, they will discover that teamwork and the willingness to share and adapt can help them achieve their goals.

This is the perfect book for your child to learn about recycling, financial literacy, perseverance, sharing, teamwork, and donating. Use it as a tool to inspire children’s excitement for and interest in recycling. After kids read the book, watch the recycling lightbulb turn on in their minds as they start looking for cans to recycle.

The Million Cans Recycling Program

But recycling isn’t just for kids — we want to make it easy for anyone to recycle any type of metal. To do this, we started the Million Cans Recycling Program. We are working with scrap yards around the U.S. to bring roll-off bins to local schools so that communities have an easy drop-off location for metal. All metal has value and any proceeds from the recycled metal will go to the school to buy supplies. By making recycling metal easy for everyone, we can achieve our goal of 100% of used metal being recycled by the year 2052.

You can be a part of this important environmental initiative by helping us get our book into as many kids’ hands as possible. We’re asking you to buy The Girl Who Recycled 1 Million Cans for the kids in your life — or donate it to elementary schools in your neighborhood. Help us spread the word that metal does not belong in the garbage.

Together, we can save the planet, one can at a time. And you can get a start by searching Earth911’s Recycling Locator to find local metal recycling options (just add your ZIP code when you arrive).