The tips and tactics below will help you get the most out of your recycling campaign and lead you to victory in the Great American Can Roundup Scout Challenge!

For additional suggestions, try contacting recycling/environmental organizations.
List of Organizations

How To…

Get Free Recycling Bins or Bags

  • The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Keep America Beautiful (KAB) Bin Grant Program offers two recycling bin grants. The first is for bin grants for public space recycling and the second is for collegiate bin grants. Visit to apply.
  • Ask your local warehouse club retailer if they might provide a discount on or donate clear 39-55-gallon drum liners for your campaign.
  • Speak to your local recycling coordinator or state recycling association or KAB Affiliates regarding possible loaner recycling bins, plastic bags or other bin-grant opportunities.

Get Your Cans Ready for Recycling

Most recycling centers will deduct ten percent from the purchase price for dirty or wet containers, so make sure they are clean and dry.

  • Rinse and empty the cans.
  • Keep the pull-tabs on! Your cans will weigh more, so you’ll earn more.
  • Crush the cans by stepping on them (to save space), unless you live in a deposit state (CA, CT, Guam, HI, IA, ME, MA, MI, NY, OR or VT).
  • Store cans in plastic trash bags in a secure place—indoors if possible.

Not sure a can is aluminum? Try placing a magnet on it. Magnets won’t stick to aluminum.

Redeem Your Cans

Get a list of buy-back centers or scrap dealers in your area at Search for “aluminum beverage cans” near your zip code or town.

Build Community Awareness

The more interest and excitement you build about recycling beverage cans, the more people will participate in your recycling campaign. Scouts can work individually or as a unit on projects like these:

  • Create barometer posters to show the community how far your unit is from its recycling goal.
  • Build a giant sign with the word “RECYCLING” spelled out in aluminum beverage cans.
  • Make a float or display for an upcoming parade, fair or carnival.

For more tips on how to build community awareness about your roundup and recycling in general, go to Promote Your Roundup.


Tactics to Try

What do you get when you combine your Scouting for Food campaign with the Great American Can Roundup? Scouting for Cans! As you canvas neighborhoods asking folks to leave bags of canned foods on their doorsteps the following week, also let people know you will be collecting bags of used beverage cans.

  • Include a notice about aluminum can recycling on your Scouting for Food door hangers/flyers.
  • Ask people to rinse the cans before bagging them.
  • Use the proceeds from recycling to buy additional food or make a charitable contribution—and communicate this to the community.

Gather a group to collect cans in public areas such as parks and playgrounds, along creeks and streams, around shopping centers, stadiums, construction sites, etc.
Ask local merchants to place a box or bag near snack bars or vending machines, with a sign reading “Please Recycle Your Aluminum Cans Here.” Include your unit/troop’s name, your goal and a contact name and telephone number. Be sure to delegate the task of retrieving cans from these bins on a regular basis.

Scouts often participate in parades. This year, collect cans from parade watchers and/or ask parade organizers if you can set up recycling bins along parade route.

  • March in the parade with recycling bags to collect cans along the way.
  • Drive a float/pickup truck in the parade to promote beverage can recycling awareness and collect cans.
  • Ask vendors along the route to offer recycling bins and/or display signs about your can roundup during the parade.

Hold a “Car Wash for Cans” event in a high-traffic location with access to water spigots—possibly at a school, church or club that sponsors your unit.

  • Offer free car washes in exchange for 100 cans (or a specified weight of your choice).
  • Pro-rate prices for smaller donations.

This is a great way to raise community awareness and earn funds for a special project. Check with local retailers, the parks and recreation department, or organizers of local events such as art fairs, carnivals and parades to host a mountain-building event.

  • Set a specific goal such as 10,000 or even 100,000 cans. (The Boy and Girl Scouts of Alexandria, Virginia, filled two tractor trailers and earned $1,000 from their mountain of 100,000 cans!)
  • Find a highly visible, accessible location for the mountain. Parking lots are best.
  • Create a barometer poster to show the community how far the school is from its recycling goal.
  • Rally people to your cause by clearly communicating how you will use the proceeds from the collection.
  • Ask your local recycling center if they will help you transport the cans (e.g., by providing a tractor trailer).

Partner with local professional sports teams to motivate fans to bring their used beverage cans for collection on a special day/evening.

  • Set up collection bins or areas at the stadium/arena.
    • The bed of a pickup truck, decorated with your unit’s name/number and signage and parked near the entrance, works well.
    • Scouts might walk around with bags to collect cans from fans during the game.
    • Build a Mountain of Cans in the parking lot.
  • Ask the team owners to provide free tickets, photos of athletes or team gear for fans who bring X number/pounds of cans for recycling on the designated day.

Challenge other units or councils, or challenge local businesses, to collect more cans than you! For business challenges, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or service organizations, which often support this type of environmental outreach.