18 October 2019 by Joshua Doherty

UK behind Europe in can recycling, figures show

Statistics released by the trade body European Aluminium this week have shown that the UK recorded a 4 percentage point jump in aluminium recycling rates in 2017.

However, the 72% recorded by the UK is still below the European average of 74.5%, although the 4%  jump is higher than the EU-wide rise of 2.8%.

But, UK aluminium recyclers remain optimistic that the rates are continuing to rise, and hopes are high they will continue to do so as legislation develops.

The figures are compiled by the trade body on an annual basis and are usually two years behind. They are sourced from Eurostat data, EPR schemes and PRN data, and cover the 28 EU member states along with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

aluminium can recycling

The UK ranked 19th in its can recycling rate for 2017, but saw a  3% rise in 2018 (Picture: Shutterstock)

The UK’s 2017 rate ranks it in 19th position, which is down one from last year.


European Aluminium said when releasing its figures that Can manufacturers (members of Metal Packaging Europe) and their aluminium suppliers are confident that the European can recycling rate will increase further in the coming decade.

This is primarily through a combination of measures such as improved collection systems and some incentive based initiatives such as a deposit return scheme.

According to European Aluminum, the manufacturers stand “ready to invest in additional recycling capacities”, providing other stakeholders are equally prepared to invest in additional and modern sorting facilities.

And, commenting after the release of the data, Leonie Knox-Peebles, CEO of Metal Packaging Europe, said that despite the upcoming European recycling definition change, confidence is high of increasing recycling rates.

“As we move towards our 100% recycling rate target, what matters most is the recycling yields; aluminium is well positioned for the future given its very low losses during recycling.”


The figures from European Aluminium are normally behind due to the administration process of sourcing figures from across the continent.

Its UK figures are from the same source as those compiled by ALUPRO, The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation.

These are normally easier to compile and are a year ahead, with ALUPRO’s latest figures suggesting the UK reached 75% in 2018, a rise of 3%.

The UK continues to increase its rate, with aspirations to continue to rise to as close to 100% as possible

Rick Hindley, ALUPRO

Commenting on the figures, Rick Hindley, executive director of Alupro, said: “The 2017 figures, which increased to 75% in 2018, show that the UK continues to increase its rate, with aspirations to continue to rise to as close to 100% as possible.”


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