We understand the importance of recycling materials that we use every day now more than ever. Packaging related issues are in the news almost daily. We may know some of the waste and recycling stats but that doesn’t mean that we know all of the facts. The truth is there are still a lot of myths out there about what happens to our packaging once it is used. Materials go into a bin and a truck comes and takes them away, meaning you don’t actually see what happens to the recyclables with your own eyes.
In this blog post we dispel a few of these common myths for drinks cans.
- Metal packaging isn’t recycled very much
There are still pockets of the general population who believe that metal packaging does not get recycled as much as it should or as much as other packaging materials are recycled.
In fact, aluminium cans are the most recycled drinks container on the planet, according to Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), and in 2017 the UK achieved a recycling rate of 72% for aluminium drinks cans.
As of April 2018, the new recycling targets proposed for aluminium across the EU are 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030. These are already being exceeded for UK beverage cans and the industry has committed itself to an average European metal packaging recycling rate of 80% by 2020.
Over the last two decades over £1bn has been invested in the sustainability of metal packaging – more than any other packaging material, according to the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) – and the industry continues to invest.
And final fact: up to 80% of all metal ever produced in the world is still available for use.
- Collecting metals is difficult
There are multiple ways in which metal packaging can be collected. Kerbside collection from homes and offices is the most commonly known, convenient way. Drinks cans are also collected via can banks, at supermarket car parks for example, or via ‘on the go’ recycling bins.
There is also another aspect of collection that goes on that consumers may not be aware of that requires no additional effort on their part. In both cases, metal is easily extracted and reprocessed:
- Energy recovery facilities, for example, are increasingly used and offer a residual waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances in waste materials to generate energy whilst reducing landfill.
- Extraction from mixed domestic waste recovers valuable metal packaging by removing materials from the mixed waste stream so they can be used to produce more products.
The metals industry also works hard to continuously increase UK recycling rates through education programmes.
- MetalMatters is a great example of a programme that works in partnership with local authorities and their waste collection partners to promote metal packaging recycling directly to householders, and thereby improve capture rates for metal packaging at kerbside. The programme encourages householders to increase recycling of their metal packaging in existing household recycling boxes or bins, rather than disposing of it in general waste. Now in its 8th year, 84 local authorities have run the MetalMatters programme so far, covering 5.5 million (20%) of all UK households, communicating the benefits of metal recycling to each of them.
- Every Can Counts is another example of how the industry is helping make recycling drinks cans easier both at work and on the go. A lot of drinks cans are consumed out of the home and, as people are unlikely to keep these cans to put in their collection bins at home, the programme targets on the go locations – from universities to offices, high streets to events, and more. To date, Every Can Counts have signed up thousands of organisations to the programme and there are more than 13,000 branded recycling points around the UK.
Check back for part two where we bust another four myths!