A report commissioned by Alupro has found that the UK is already “well on the way” to achieving high recycling rates for aluminium packaging which are “far beyond” the targets proposed in the EU Circular Economy Package.
And, in its report into packaging targets, Alupro, which represents the sector’s aluminium packaging producers, said this will be achieved “with or without DRS [deposit return scheme]”.
Alupro suggests an 85% recycling rate for aluminium cans will be achieved by 2020. The Circular Economy Package, published earlier this year, sets targets for aluminium packaging of 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030 (see letsrecycle.com story).
According to the report, the recycling rate for aluminium drinks cans hit 72% in 2017 (up from 70% in 2016), whilst the national recycling rate for all aluminium packaging reached 51%.
Data also shows that 92% of the aluminium packaging collected for recycling in the UK, is recycled within Europe, the report states.
“Based on the existing system, an 85% recycling rate for aluminium cans will be achieved by 2020. This rises to 90% by 2030, much of which will come from incinerator bottom ash (IBA). It is worth noting that a 90% recycling rate is already being achieved in areas where residual household waste is sent to incineration,” the report says.
Earlier this year, Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that the government will introduce some form of DRS for single use drinks containers, which could cover plastic and glass bottles, as well as cans (see letsrecycle.com story).
Modelling in the report predicts that a DRS will deliver a “modest” 4% increase in the total amount recycled. But Alupro said it is “concerned that a DRS may negatively impact on the kerbside collection of other aluminium packaging such as aerosols, food packaging and foil”.
And, Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, echoed these concerns about the affects a DRS could have. Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Mr Hindley said: “Our view is that for aluminium we actually don’t need a deposit return system.
A video interview with Rick Hindley, executive director of Alupro
“We’re going to achieve the high recycling rates that can be achieved through deposit return by reform of the current EPR – the extended producer responsibility scheme – which we have, to put more money into the system to support things like communications and increase on-the-go recycling.”
“And yes we’re absolutely concerned that it could undermine the good work that we’ve already done,” he added.
Mr Hindley explained that the other concern is that local authorities rely heavily on the value they get from the aluminium, which is one of the higher value materials collected by councils at the kerbside.
Alupro has put forward a number of measures to further increase recycling of aluminium packaging. These include investment in communications; consistency of local authority kerbside collections; investment in on-the-go infrastructure; continuing to develop separation technology; and reform of the packaging producer responsibility system.