Position Statement:- The Aluminium Can Production and Recycling Industry Position re: Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS)

31 October 2023

Position Statement:- The Aluminium Can Production and Recycling Industry Position re: Digital Deposit Return Scheme (DDRS)

Aluminium drinks cans are a real success story for the circular economy; not only are they completely recyclable but they are widely recycled, with the industry achieving an impressive and market-leading UK recycling rate of 82%.

Our industry wants to go further, with ambitions to recycle 100% of cans by 2030. A well-designed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), such as those of Finland or Denmark, is a key instrument to achieve this. Successful and long-running DRS’ like these, based on a ‘return-to-retail’ structure and return vending machines (RVMs), not only tackle litter and deliver ever-higher collection rates for cans but also typically guarantee higher quality feedstock to the recycling process. Cans contaminated with plastic and other undesirable materials, typically sourced from UK kerbside co-mingled collection systems, need additional sorting to remove these ‘non-target’ elements. Whilst not hindering recyclability, this adds costs and waste to the recycling process which could be avoided if those cans instead were collected through a conventional DRS.

Therefore, our industry is opposed to any proposal that doesn’t guarantee lower contamination levels for recycling, doesn’t demonstrate that it can support our sustainability ambitions nor conclusively tackle litter.

On these grounds, the aluminium packaging and recycling sector does not support a Digital DRS (or DDRS), defined as an alternative DRS model where instead of all containers being taken to return points by consumers, deposits can be redeemed by the public through mobile technology by scanning unique codes (e.g. QR marks) on each container which can be recycled through existing systems (e.g kerbside collections). The studies and trials exploring DDRS’ to date have highlighted the potential theoretical benefits of such a system, but these have yet to be demonstrated not only at scale but also, more fundamentally, that the requirements placed on the packaging value chain by a DDRS are even feasible or sensible. They have proven simply that the public appear, quite understandably, supportive of recycling initiatives that they can participate in by using an app at home.

Our challenges to the concept revolve around two themes. Firstly, that a DDRS cannot be facilitated by the aluminium beverage packaging and supply chain and secondly that it is not as effective as a conventional DRS as a measure that improves packaging sustainability and recycling rates.

Feasibility and Operational Challenges Sustainability Challenges
·       The printing of unique codes on containers at rapid line production speeds is not feasible; the technology to do so is expensive and requires factories to significantly lower their throughput.


·       A DDRS does not guarantee improvements in the quality of collected drinks cans by reducing contamination, reducing cost and environmental benefits of a DRS of any kind for recyclers.
·       Over 90% of soft drinks and over 60% of beers and ciders are sold in multipacks in the UK; no trial has yet demonstrated how to manage the simultaneous activation of between 4 and 24 individual deposits at the point of sale.


·       A DDRS does not guarantee that containers which have had their deposit redeemed will actually be recycled; without the collection offered by RVMs, containers could still be littered.
·       In a traditional DRS, revenue from the sale of collected materials helps to fund the scheme. In a DDRS, material ownership is not defined as containers will still be mixed with other packaging, so a new funding model will need to be developed.


·       It is unclear if a DDRS offers significant carbon efficiency when compared to a traditional DRS. For example, will the savings from needing fewer RVMs be offset by the continued treatment of contamination seen under current recycling collection regimes?
·       DDRS is not supported by all UK nations, further jeopardizing the interoperability of a national scheme.


A 2023 report by consultants Eunomia “Serialised Deposit Return Systems: An assessment of the feasibility and desirability of container serialisation and alternative DRS return pathways in Belgium”, prepared for Recycling Netwerk Benelux, highlighted these same concerns and identified others.

For more information and for enquiries, contact info@alupro.org.uk.


Company Alupro

Company Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association

Name Tom Giddings,

Executive Director

Name Robert Fell,

Executive Director

Signature Signature
Company The Can Makers Committee

Name Tim Conybeare,






Tata Steel celebrates Recycle Week by joining the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative

Tata Steel extends education programme to help raise awareness of recycling attributes of aerosols

October 2023 – Tata Steel, one of the world’s largest steel producers and one of the UK’s leading steel re-processors, has become the latest organisation to join the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative and is celebrating as part of national Recycle Week, 16 – 22 October.

Steel aerosols are easily captured for recycling through existing UK recycling schemes – kerbside, magnetic extraction, and even after waste incineration. They make a valuable contribution to UK steel recycling rates, but consumers’ appreciation of their recycling credentials is low compared to other household metal containers such as food cans.

“We all use metal aerosols around the house, and they are widely used by businesses such as hairdressers and tradespeople. Yet there is a definite gap in consumers’ knowledge of the recycling potential of metal aerosol cans and separating them for recycling at home is not yet as instinctive as it is for most other forms of packaging,” explained Nicola Jones, Manager for Steel Packaging Recycling.

“Tata Steel is joining the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative to help narrow that knowledge gap and help increase metal recycling rates still further.”

Launched by Alupro in Autumn 2022, the campaign’s key priorities are closely aligned to Tata Steel’s own recycling education activities which include encouraging and measuring recycling performance, ensuring consistency of public messaging around metal packaging recycling, and driving targeted consumer education of good home recycling practice.

Other members of the UK Aerosols Recycling Initiative include British Aerosols Manufacturers’ Association and steel packaging manufacturers, Trivium Packaging.

The project also aims to encourage metal aerosol recyclability and viability in a post- extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return scheme landscape.

Tata Steel is seeing greater interest in steel for aerosols. Historically, steel aerosol cans are welded; now though, Tata Steel’s high quality steel grades and can-making knowledge have made a non-welded aerosol can possible in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The Protact® two-piece aerosol can, made by DS Containers in a combined DRD and D&I can-making process, for example, combines value and product integrity giving brands an opportunity to create a premium pack with great consumer appeal.

Weld free, and with a polymer corrosion protection, Protact offers many possibilities for high quality decoration and facilitates a lean production process for aerosol can makers. Two-piece tinplate aerosols made by a D&I process are already on the market.

Tata Steel is also seeing considerable new interest in shaped aerosols which offer exceptional consumer appeal and the company has special high elongation steels that enable the production of these.

Nicola Jones concludes:

“Our contribution to a non-welded offer, interest in steel products which offer greater shaping opportunities, plus steel’s exemplary recycling credentials, make now the perfect time to join this recycling initiative.

“Our end goal is to maximise steel collection and recycling, and the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative will make a significant contribution to this.”

Alupro film explores the aluminium packaging recycling journey

As part of its ongoing work to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling aluminium packaging, Alupro has launched an educational video taking viewers behind the scenes of the post-consumer journey – from recycling bin through to reprocessing.

Narrated by irreverent sports commentator Nick Heath, ‘Secrets of Aluminium’ gives an entertaining insight into the circular process, while dispelling a number of common myths and profiling the UK’s thriving aluminium supply chain.

To ensure the film is shared far and wide, a supporting social media awareness campaign will be run across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, while 3D Artist and Motion Graphic Designer, Hashmukh Kerai, has also been enlisted to create an animated interpretation of the journey.

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, commented: “The aluminium packaging recycling process may be common knowledge for the supply chain, but consumers are still widely unaware of what happens to their waste once it leaves the kerbside. As a result, there’s a fair amount of misinformation and scepticism about how much packaging collected in the UK is actually recycled.

“Secrets of Aluminium aims to dispel the myths and highlight the infinite circularity of metal packaging. After all, 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today – a fascinating statistic that highlights precisely why consumers should follow best practice recycling guidelines.

“But rather than a dry, dull educational film, we wanted to make it entertaining and engaging for people to watch. Recycling isn’t boring or stale, so having the quirky commentary of Nick Heath will bring a fun twist – aiming to inspire viewers, increase awareness of the process think twice about what to do with their used aluminium packaging.

To watch The Secrets of Aluminium, visit https://youtu.be/Lg5fGVlp8YY.


Alupro to showcase latest campaigns at LARAC 2023

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, will showcase its latest consumer awareness campaigns and creative educational initiatives at this year’s LARAC Conference. Taking place at The Hilton Metropole in Birmingham between 11-12 October, the recycling and waste management event will bring together hundreds of local authority representatives from across the UK to discuss policy, funding, collaboration and best practice.

Throughout the event, delegates will have the opportunity to talk to the Alupro team about MetalMatters, its direct engagement initiative designed to encourage households to recycle their metal packaging at the kerbside; #FoilFriday, the free and downloadable campaign to stimulate aluminium foil recycling; and Alupro’s range of education campaigns, which are curriculum-linked and aim to help future generations be more sustainable.

Alupro will also host a giveaway where one lucky attendee will take home a luxury hamper full of aluminium packaged goodies! Simply visit their stand in the LARAC partners exhibition area for a chance to win.

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, commented: “The LARAC Conference brings together representatives from every local authority across the UK to discuss, debate and learn more about the most important waste management updates – from policy changes and funding opportunities, to possibilities for collaboration and best practice case studies. The event provides a unique opportunity to present our latest awareness campaigns and educational initiatives, as well as share the positive impacts of our latest collaborations.”

For more information about Alupro, visit www.alupro.org.uk, or meet the team on the stand in the LARAC partners exhibition area during the two-day event.