U.S. aluminum can recycling rates reached the highest level in 20 years last year, highlighting the successful policy that metal companies have been implementing to reduce waste, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In 2012 some 62 billion cans were recycled in the United States, which means that two in three aluminum cans produced ended up in recycling facilities. Overall, 92 billion cans were produced domestically last year, data from a report by a consortium of industry groups reveals. The previous recycling peak was in 1992, when 67.9 percent of all aluminum cans were recycled.

Rates have been going up for the past six years, the Wall Street Journal said. Last year 13 billion cans were imported, compared to 6.5 billion in 2007, when recycling rates were at a more modest 53.5 percent.

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Despite the positive development and the two-decade high, U.S. recycling rates still lag behind those of Brazil and many countries in Western Europe.

Typically, when households dispose of aluminum cans with their waste, waste-management companies collect the different recyclable materials. Then cans, in the form of scrap, are bought by large aluminum companies, such as Novelis Inc. and Alcoa Inc., and are melted and rolled into sheets in their facilities. After that, these sheets are transported to various firms where they are pressed into different shapes including cans.