The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Squadron 09 won the inaugural Great American Can Roundup (GACR) contest by recycling a total of 4,166 beverage cans. Sponsored by the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI,, the GACR creates awareness of the environmental benefits of recycling cans.

A representative from Ball Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of aluminum beverage cans in North America, presented the award Academy Challenge Perpetual Trophy, along with a $1,500 check to the winning squadron at the Air Force Academy’s headquarters in Colorado Springs.

With more than 24,310 cans recycled and nearly half of the squadrons participating, the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Squadron Roundup ran from November 15 (America Recycles Day) through April 22 (Earth Day). Participation was open to its 1,700 cadets who organized the collection and recycling of 5,000 cans within the final two weeks before Earth Day.

The Great American Squadron Can Roundup Challenge is part of a larger CMI initiative to promote and engage community recycling involvement, sponsors recycling events, and distributes educational materials regarding the importance of environmental stewardship.
In addition to the first place squadron prize, Ball Corporation, on behalf of CMI, awarded $1,000 to the second place recycling U.S. Air Force Cadet Squadron 06.

“CMI is thrilled by the success of the first service academy recycling competition,” says CMI president Robert Budway. “Unlike most other packages, the aluminum can is endlessly recyclable and is composed of a high amount of recycled material. A used can is able to be recycled and made into a new can in as little as 60 days. This closed-loop recycling process has been exceptionally beneficial in minimizing the amount of materials going into a landfill resulting in the can being the most sustainable packaging solution.”