Change essential if Scottish DRS is to be a success

Earlier this week (16 March), the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform laid regulations in the Scottish Parliament that will create the legal framework for the Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The Regulations will now lie before the Scottish Parliament for fifty-four days to allow a further period of scrutiny. There will then be a vote in the Scottish Parliament, after which the scheme will become law. In response to the announcement, Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, offers his views:

“For some considerable time, the Scottish Government has been considering plans for the introduction of a national DRS. Aiming to tackle plastic pollution, increase recycling rates, improve recyclate quality and minimise litter, proposals have gained strong support from NGOs and the media.

“However, despite such promise, I was deeply disappointed to read the final scope of the regulations. While sense has prevailed and the commencement date has been pushed back to July 2022, there are still a number of concerning points.

“Firstly, despite widespread opposition, the regulation opts for a flat deposit rate of 20p on all sizes of container. This is double the level typically used in the highly successful Scandinavian programmes and will lead to unintended consequences – specifically on the sales of multipack cans.

“As an example, the cost of 24 cans in a multipack will increase by £4.80, with the same volume in large plastic bottles rising by just 80p in comparison. Research suggests that two thirds of consumers would be likely to switch their purchasing behaviour to the cheaper option, resulting in the unnecessary production of 823 million more plastic bottles (8.2m in Scotland).

“In order to avoid distorting the market, we believe the deposit rate should vary according to the size of the container to avoid favouring one material over another. It’s an approach that works in many Scandinavian countries which are being cited as best practice examples to follow.

“Finally, we are concerned about the timing of the planned assessment of performance against targets. It will become apparent very quickly if the scheme is working, or if changes are needed. Waiting three years for a review could prove hugely (and unnecessarily) damaging to the packaging industry.

“There is much to consider if the Scottish DRS is to be a success. The last thing we’d want is a situation similar to that in Germany, where a poorly designed system caused can sales to plummet by 96% almost overnight.

“As such, we believe changes to the regulations are essential and we implore the Scottish Parliament to think carefully during this fifty-four day period of further scrutiny about the industry’s widespread concerns.”




Alupro response to Coronavirus

UPDATED 25th MARCH 2020:

Like most organisations, we are making our way through the Coronavirus pandemic one day at a time.

Since our update on 18 March (below), all Alupro team members are now working from home.  We keep in touch daily with video calls and are maintaining a reasonable semblance of business as usual for our partners.

Our heartfelt thanks go to those people who continue to deliver services vital for the communities where we all work and live.

Keep safe, be kind, keep recycling.


In response to the current health crisis, here at Alupro we are taking the following measures:

Our office is in a rural location, and except for the postman, we rarely have the opportunity to welcome visitors.  With immediate effect, any meetings planned to take place in the office will now be conducted via virtual meeting tools.  Additionally, no Alupro team members will attend external meetings.

We successfully tested our IT systems on Monday, when the full team worked from home.  It is important that we balance team members’ needs and Government guidance, and so the office will operate with skeleton staffing.  Guidelines to maintain cleanliness to minimise the risk of contamination are being followed.  We are taking this time to ensure that everyone has what they need to effectively work from home as and when the need arises.

We are working closely with partners in order to ensure plans for MetalMatters campaigns remain flexible.

Our Every Can Counts events calendar is clearly subject to change.  We are supporting festival and event organisers, and where necessary, will make our own call in order to protect our recycling ambassadors and the public.  For example, we made the decision not to attend The Boat Race (29 March) before the organisers announced that the event is cancelled.

We are reviewing these measures daily and will continue to respond to Government guidelines and our members’ and team members actions and needs, in order to maintain business as usual for all our partners.

When it comes to metals . . . nothing goes to waste.

Did you know.….from your black bin bag waste, valuable metals can be recovered that you were not able to recycle in the first instance?  As a keen recycler, I thought this was certainly worth exploring.

Scanmetals UK Ltd, based in Willenhall, invited me to tour their recycling and recovery plant, in order to see the process of recovering aluminium and other non-ferrous metals from incineration plants, for the purpose of recycling.

For the uninitiated, the general waste materials are collected at the household kerbside by your local council and taken to an energy from waste plant (EFW). Here the material is passed through the incinerator and the residue left behind is known as incinerator bottom ash (IBA). The majority of this IBA is known as aggregate, and it usually contains an amount of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The IBA is delivered to an aggregate company where it is cleaned and treated and then the aggregate material is sold to companies like Scanmetals who specialise in the recovery of the non-ferrous metals for recycling.

Before my visit, I was advised not to wear my ‘best clothes’; arriving at Scanmetals, unlike other processing facilities I have visited, there was no distinctive smell, but it is extremely dusty in the arrival bay area.

My guide, the lovely Joao, showed me where the aggregate material is delivered from the suppliers and where it is deposited in the large bay area. Joao explained that each suppliers’ material is kept in separate bays in order to report back to each EFW plant the exact amount of non-ferrous material recovered.

The aggregate material looks like a mass of dusty grey stones of all shapes, but on closer inspection (if you don’t mind the dust), you can easily identify items such as aluminium can lids, toothpaste tubes and aerosols.

Joao explained the aggregate material is loaded onto a hopper and is passed in a drier machine (that looks like a big drum) which removes the dirt and moisture and is then passed into a second drier for further cleaning.

We then walked through into a second warehouse, where the cleaned aggregate material is transported on a sort of enclosed conveyor. In here, there were huge pieces of equipment where the different sizes of metal are treated and separated using the latest sorting technology.

I was shown the different types of metal that the Scanmetals technology can recover, such as aluminium, copper, brass, zinc, stainless steel and a surprisingly large amount of coins.

It is an incredible and unique process that we should be shouting about – when it comes to metals, nothing goes to waste. Inspired by what I saw and working with Scanmetals, we’ve produced a video to show their process of recovering aluminium from non-ferrous aggregate materials.

Click on the film below to view this unique process.


2020 aluminium recycling targets well within reach, thanks to record rates

According to figures released by the Environment Agency (EA) earlier this week (12 March), 116,670 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling in the UK last year – a 17% increase compared to 2018 figures (99,852) and surpassing government targets by more than 8,400 tonnes.

Aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems increased by almost 21% (from 74,595 to 89,974), while tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash also experienced an uplift (from 25,546 to 26,696).

Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, commented: “I was delighted to read the EA data, which highlights another impressive rise in the volume of aluminium packaging collected and recycled across the UK. Since 2010, the industry has experienced a steady increase (11%), which should be seen as a considerable achievement!

“Record rates suggests increased public awareness about the benefits of  aluminium recycling and positive action towards improving resource efficiency. This highlights the importance of our behavioural change programmes – MetalMatters and Every Can Counts.

“Looking forward to the first two months of 2020, provisional data highlights a year-on-year increase of 52% (compared to the same period in 2019), with 19,371 tonnes of aluminium already collected for recycling.  This, alongside a highly positive carry over, puts the industry in an excellent position to surpass this year’s targets, which again increase by 3% (from 61% to 64%).

“Consequently, under normal market conditions, we anticipate that PRN prices should begin to fall and return to a more realistic and sustainable level. It’s therefore essential that we continue to celebrate increasing recycling rates, while maintaining focus on achieving our ambition of close to 100% recycling across the UK.”

To access the 2019 recycling rates, visit the Environment Agency’s National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) here.


Alupro appoints Prova to champion the benefits of aluminium packaging

Alupro, the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, has appointed cleantech and environmental communications consultancy Prova to manage its external public relations activities. The agreement will see Prova deliver a powerful campaign to champion the benefits of aluminium packaging.

Alupro is an industry-funded, not-for-profit organisation with more than 30 years’ experience representing the UK’s aluminium packaging industry. The organisation works hard to fulfil the industry’s obligation to meet, and exceed, recycling targets for aluminium packaging. Members include Novelis, Hydro Aluminium, Crown Holdings, Red Bull UK, Nespresso and Ardagh Group.

Partnering with Prova will help Alupro to maintain its position as the sought-after authority of the sector, position aluminium positively in the national packaging debate and build strong links with the metal packaging sector to stimulate the UK’s collection infrastructure.

Bev Burnham, head of marketing & communications at Alupro, commented: “Aluminium is a true packaging champion. It has an intrinsically high value, can be recycled indefinitely and contributes to a perfectly circular economy.

“With climate change and sustainability continuing to hit the headlines across mainstream media, we wanted to champion the numerous benefits of aluminium packaging and celebrate its circularity. Partnering with Prova will help us to increase our voice and influence behavioural change – a key priority in the midst of government consultations regarding packaging and collections.”

Richard Postins, managing director at Prova, added: “Alupro is respected nationwide for its extensive work across the aluminium packaging loop. Over the coming months, we’re looking forward to working in close partnership with the team to lead the legislative debate, celebrate the circularity of aluminium packaging and build strong relationships across the sector.”


To find out about Prova, or its circular economy experience, visit