Minnesota man has collected nearly 3 million soda can tabs

Soda tabs.

Combined ShapeCaption
Soda tabs.

A Minnesota man has been collecting the tabs from aluminum cans for nearly 30 years, and he is closing in on a major milestone. In a Plexiglas box that is the size of a Dumpster, Jim Spinler has collected nearly 3 million tabs.

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"There's 2,650,000 in there right now," the 75-year-old Spinler told the Owatonna Peoples Press. "With the box and the pallet, it's over 2,000 pounds with all that weight."

Once he fills the box -- which measures six feet wide, four feet deep and four feet high -- Spinler plans to donate all of the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

Spinler said he began collecting the tabs during his 50 years as owner of Jim’s Garbage Service, which he sold in 2006. He told the Peoples Press that he sold the business to support the Ronald McDonald House, which supports families of children with serious illnesses who are undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

“One of my friends got to stay in Ronald McDonald House about 30 years ago. His kid had a kidney infection,” Spinler told the Peoples Press. “So I started collecting, and when I retired, I had 15 five-gallon pails full.”

Many of the tabs he has collected himself, but friends have donated some, too.

Thirty years later, Spinler still plans to donate the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House — but not quite yet. He wants to top off the box first, which he estimates will take right around 3 million tabs.

“Another year. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to fill it,” he said.

The Ronald McDonald House collects the tabs and has volunteers who transport them to local recycling centers. Most years, the money they collect adds up to between $10,000 and $15,000.

Once the box is full, Spinler also plans to reach out to the Guinness Book of World Records. He doesn’t know what the largest pop tab collection on record is, he says, but 3 million has got to be close.

“I’m proud of what I’m doing,” he told the People’s Press. “I wish I’d written down all the people that donated.”

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