Reforms could see aluminium recycling almost double

Preventing around £50 million of wasted resources annually

Green Alliance say aluminium recycling could double with new reforms

New reforms, including a deposit return scheme (DRS), could see aluminium recycling almost double if implemented,

New reforms, including a deposit return scheme (DRS), could see aluminium recycling almost double if implemented, preventing around £50 million of wasted resources each year, according to a new report by environmental think tank Green Alliance.

The report, released today (11 March) and titled ‘Closing the loop: Four steps towards 100 per cent aluminium packaging recycling’, looks at the state of aluminium recycling in the UK and proposes a number of ways in which it could be boosted.

In 2017, the UK recycled 51 per cent of aluminium packaging, including 72 per cent of aluminium drink cans. Despite the high recycling rate for drink cans, the UK is still allowing £50 million of used aluminium packaging go to waste each year.

As part of the recently published Resources and Waste Strategy, consultations are currently open regarding the introduction of a DRS for beverage containers, extended producer responsibility (EPR), consistent collections and a plastics tax for plastic packaging containing less than 30 per cent recycled content. Green Alliance’s report argues that reforms proposed in the consultations could see almost all aluminium packaging recycled, including drink cans, aerosols, food tines, trays and foil, and reduce the amount of wasted aluminium to just three per cent.

The most important finding in the report is that, to maintain quality, and therefore value, aluminium must be extracted from the waste management process as early as possible. It becomes increasingly more expensive and energy intensive to generate high-quality material the more it becomes mixed with other materials.

Aluminium can be endlessly recycled with very little loss of quality. Aluminium mining and primary production is an expensive, energy intensive and waste generating process. Using recycled aluminium minimises these impacts, and we should be choosing this route to be a greener UK.

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