Steel from cans and other sources is the most recycled packaging material. Around 65% of steel cans are recycled. In the United States, 63% of steel cans are recycled, compared to 52% of aluminium cans. In Europe the recycling rate in 2011 is about 74%. Much can recycling occurs at the smelters, but individual consumers also directly reuse cans in various ways. For instance some people use two tin cans to form a camp or survival stove to cook small meals.
Tin is corrosion resistant, but acidic food like fruits and vegetables can corrode the tin layer. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea have been reported after ingesting canned food containing 200 mg/kg of tin. A 2002 study showed that 99.5% of 1200 tested cans contained below the UK regulatory limit of 200 mg/kg of tin, an improvement over most previous studies largely attributed to the increased use of fully lacquered cans for acidic foods, and concluded that the results do not raise any long term food safety concerns for consumers. The two non-compliant products were voluntarily recalled.
Evidence of tin impurities can be indicated by color, as in the case of pears, but lack of color change does not guarantee that a food is not tainted with tin.
The chemical compound Bisphenol A found in can linings "...is associated with organizational changes in the prostate, breast, testis, mammary glands, body size, brain structure and chemistry, and behavior of laboratory animals", unborn children and adults.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a controversial chemical compound present in commercially available tin can plastic linings and transferred to canned food. The inside of the can is coated with an epoxy coating, in an attempt to prevent food or beverage from coming into contact with the metal. The longer food is in a can, and the warmer and more acidic it is, the more BPA leaches into it. In September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.In the European Union and Canada, BPA use is banned in baby bottles. The FDA does not regulate BPA . Several companies, like Campbell's Soup, announced plans to eliminate BPA from the linings of their cans, but have not said which chemical they plan to replace it with.