Aluminium can recycling in Europe hits new record high

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The overall recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland rose by over 2 % to a new record high of 76.1 % in 2018.

European aluminium beverage can recycling rates in 2018. Diagram: European Aluminium

The total amount of aluminium cans recycled increased by 37,000 tonnes to 457,000 tonnes, compared to the previous year. This represents a total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saving of 3.7m tonnes of CO2eq. This is equivalent to the amount of GHG emissions of a mid-size European town of 400,000 inhabitants like Bologna.

Can manufacturers (members of Metal Packaging Europe) and their aluminium suppliers (members of European Aluminium) are convinced that can recycling rates can be further improved, providing that separate packaging collection systems (‘yellow’ or ‘blue’ bags and bins) in Europe are further optimized and are complemented by modern and balanced deposit return schemes for beverage cans and other relevant beverage containers. These schemes can be very helpful in moving beverage can recycling levels towards 90% or more.

With a recycling rate of 76 %, aluminium cans are a sustainable packaging solution

2018 European aluminium beverage can recycling rates - at the lower end. Diagram: European Aluminium

Leonie Knox-Peebles, chief executive of Metal Packaging Europe, stated: “With an impressive recycling rate of 76.1%, the aluminium beverage can is well positioned to contribute to the EU’s vision of becoming a truly circular economy. Consistent year-on-year increases on already high rates, combined with a well-functioning market for recycled material, demonstrate that the aluminium beverage can is a sustainable packaging solution with a key role to play in a resource-efficient society.”

Maarten Labberton, director of the Packaging Group at European Aluminium, added: “We hope that our recycling success and permanent material properties are recognized in the upcoming review of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and that a distinction is made between materials which can be recycled endlessly and materials which down-cycle after only a few reuse or recycling trips.”

 

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