Students recycled more than 4.5 million aluminum beverage cans from America Recycles Day, which was Nov. 15, 2011, through Earth Day on April 22 in the second annual Great American Can Roundup, a national recycling competition sponsored by the U.S. can industry. This year’s competition nearly doubled the number of cans that were recycled during the first contest.

More than 790 schools from all 50 states participated in the second annual contest, and raised $100,591 for school activities and local charities across the country.

“By any measure, this year’s program was a tremendous success,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), in a statement. “These students recycled more than 65 tons of cans. Their hard work not only helped protect the environment, it raised money for local schools and charities across the country. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Approximately 66,000 students ran collection projects that recycled 131,183 pounds of aluminum cans. At current rates, the aluminum collected is worth more than $65,500, which the students are able to donate to their schools or local charities. In addition, CMI awarded $1,000 to the top recycling school in each state that fulfilled all contest requirements. The national champion received an additional grand prize of $5,000.

Schools were judged on a per capita basis, comparing the number of cans recycled to the number of students who participated. With a recycling rate of 70.5 pounds, Expedition Academy in Green River, Wyo., was the national champion for the second year running. Two Montana schools rounded out the top three: Fromberg High School placed second and Cascade High School placed third.

“Expedition Academy is once again the national champion and we congratulate them for being number one in the nation for two years in a row,” Budway said in a statement. “This is really an impressive showing and we challenge them to do it again next year. I also congratulate every other school and every student who took part in this national challenge and give them a heartfelt thank you. The money they raised will be very welcome for a variety of school activities and local charities.”

Approximately 67 percent of steel food cans and 58 percent of aluminum beverage cans are recycled each year in the United States. By comparison, glass is recycled about 31 percent of the time, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers have a 29 percent recycling rate and aseptic cartons have a 6.5 percent recycling rate, Budway said.

The can’s value stems from its characteristic of being 100 percent recyclable into the original package. Once placed in a recycling bin, a can could be back on a store shelf in as few as 60 days. According to the CMI, 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.