Alupro reports record year for aluminium packaging recycling

According to annual data published by the Environment Agency,* the UK’s aluminium packaging recycling rate was a record 68% in 2021, with more than 156,000 tonnes collected for recycling (a 3% rise year-on-year). More than four in five beverage cans were recycled last year (82%) – matching the previous record set in 2020.

Despite a growing domestic market, aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems increased by 5% (112,210), while tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash grew by 2% (41,941). More than 88% of this total volume was recycled within the UK and EU, with just 12% being exported for reprocessing further afield.

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, commented: “It’s pleasing news indeed to report yet another record-breaking year for aluminium packaging recycling. While the total UK market size grew, recycling rates kept pace. More importantly still, the vast majority of material was collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems, which maximised the potential for closed-loop recycling.

“In 2020, recycling rates shot up across the board, driven in the main by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting national lockdowns and mandatory working from home guidance. Many suggested that 2021 would see a natural drop in rates, due to gradually easing restrictions, so it’s positive to see that consumers continued to recycle their aluminium packaging in 2021 and maintained their good habits.

“Looking forward to the first quarter of 2022, we hope to see record rates continuing, reflecting the positive trends of 2021. With higher, more ambitious national targets, we’re pleased to be moving ever-closer towards a 100% recycling rate for aluminium packaging.

“As we do so, communication will prove ever-more pivotal in maintaining consumer engagement and maximising positive recycling behaviours. This is a key point included within our Aluminium Manifesto, which was released in March and calls for fundamental change in the UK’s approach to packaging and waste management.”

Chris Latham-Warde of Every Can Counts, Alupro’s communications programme aimed at driving drink can recycling, added: “A record-breaking recycling rate reflects ever-increasing public awareness about environmental issues and the widespread benefits of recycling. Over the past 12 months, Every Can Counts and also MetalMatters have continued to engage consumers throughout the UK and Ireland to make real inroads towards improving recycling rates at home and when on the go.

“With a full schedule of events and activity planned with partners this year, we expect the figures to be even more impressive in 2022.”

To access the latest aluminium packaging recycling data, visit the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).

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*2021 aluminium packaging recycling data sourced from the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).

Alupro appoints sustainability and public affairs manager

Alupro has announced the appointment of Martin Hyde as sustainability and public affairs manager. Joining the company from producer compliance scheme Comply Direct Ltd, Hyde has significant experience in sustainability, legislation and environmental policy.

During his six-year tenure at Comply Direct, he was responsible for delivering consultancy on packaging, waste electricals, recycling, batteries, carbon, ESG and net-zero to a diverse member portfolio. An expert in the circular economy, Hyde has an intricate understanding of policy changes such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) and the UK Plastic Tax.

In his new role, Hyde will work closely with executive director Tom Giddings to lead Alupro’s government engagement programme. He will also be responsible for providing technical advice across a breadth of sustainability challenges, alongside consulting with members and partners throughout the aluminium value chain on new recycling initiatives.

Commenting on his appointment, Hyde said: “I’m excited to join the Alupro team at such an important time for the aluminium packaging recycling industry. With responses to the government’s EPR consultation published in March, and feedback on the recent deposit return scheme (DRS) and consistency in household and business recycling collections consultations expected over the coming months, 2022 will be a year of change and progress.

“The circular economy plays a driving role in the packaging materials of tomorrow and, with enviable properties and infinite recyclability, aluminium will be at the forefront. In my new role, I’m looking forward to promoting the role of aluminium in the UK’s transition to a circular economy, as well as providing consultancy to members across the UK.”

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, added: “At Alupro, our goal is to fulfil the industry’s obligation to meet, and exceed, recycling targets for aluminium packaging. Working in partnership with local authorities, the waste management industry, and the wider metal packaging sector, we aim to develop and stimulate the UK’s collection infrastructure.

“With extensive experience in packaging sustainability, compliance and legislation, Martin is a welcome addition to the team. His new role will see him represent Alupro and the wider industry at crucial time for aluminium packaging recycling.”

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Scanmetals joins Alupro

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, is delighted to welcome Scanmetals as its latest member. Headquartered in the UK, but with operations across Scandinavia and Germany, the company specialises in recovering non-ferrous metals from incinerator bottom ash generated by Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities.

After residual waste has been recovered to generate electricity and heat, the Scanmetals process sees residual incinerator bottom ash (IBA) sorted via state-of-the-art mechanical and sensor-based technology to remove dust and aggregate. Individual fractions of valuable metals are removed and sold to smelters, refineries, ingot makers and foundries across the globe.

Unlike more traditional IBA sortation solutions, the Scanmetals process is completely dry, harnessing the latest innovations in eddy-current, induction and X-ray sorting applications. This avoids the use of large volumes of water and chemicals, while minimising oxidisation of the metals recovered – significantly improving output quality.

Andrew King, Managing Director at Scanmetals, commented: “With more than 11 million tonnes of residual household and municipal waste treated in EfW facilities in the UK alone every year,* we believe that capturing metals released during energy recovery is an important circular process. By sorting the IBA, we capture more than 39,000 tonnes of ferrous metal per annum, including 26,000 tonnes of aluminium – 85% of which originates from aluminium packaging.

“Thanks to our unique process, we play an instrumental role in diverting valuable resources away from landfill. What’s more, as metal recovered from IBA achieves significant energy savings when compared to primary production, we can help companies across the world to lower their carbon footprint and prioritise the use of recycled materials.

“Joining Alupro provides a unique platform to engage with our customers and suppliers, as well as consumers, to further promote the benefits of IBA recovery and its importance in UK recycling rates.”

Tom Giddings, Executive Director of Alupro, added: “We’re delighted to announce Scanmetals as the first IBA recovery specialist to join Alupro. It demonstrates the company’s commitment to engaging with new audiences, as well as communicating the important role of IBA in the circular economy of tomorrow to consumers.

“We look forward to exploring the ways in which we can work together and make a real difference to the aluminium packaging recycling industry.”

For more information about Scanmetals please visit www.scanmetals.com .

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Alupro launches pioneering Aluminium Manifesto

Last week (23 March), Alupro unveiled its pioneering Aluminium Manifesto at an exclusive virtual roundtable. With a speech from Ruth Jones MP, Shadow Minister (EFRA), the event brought together leading parliamentary groups to discuss the national transition towards a circular economy.

Developed in-line with the UK’s ambitious targets to protect and enhance the environment for generations to come, the Manifesto calls for fundamental change in our national approach to packaging and waste management, explaining the pivotal role of rejuvenated legislation and innovative and consistent consumer engagement in driving a strong circular economy in the UK.

Alongside explaining why close collaboration between industry actors and the government is needed to deliver a world-class recycling system, the document voices the opinions of the supply chain and explains aluminium’s central role in the sustainable packaging industry of tomorrow. Aiming to help the UK exceed aluminium recycling targets, achieve true resource circularity and harness legislative opportunities, the Manifesto outlines seven key asks:

  1. That used aluminium packaging is consistently collected for recycling wherever possible.
  2. That ambitious on-the-go recycling infrastructure is put in place to prevent the landfilling or littering of recyclable material.
  3. That government and industry must collaborate to educate consumers about best practice aluminium recycling.
  4. That a well-designed deposit return scheme (DRS), with variable deposit fee, is implemented to promote the high collection and recycling of beverage containers.
  5. That a well-designed extended producer responsibility (EPR) system is implemented that incentivises the use, and value, of infinitely recyclable aluminium.
  6. That the government must support the deployment of proven technologies to facilitate the widespread recycling of aluminium packaging.
  7. That recyclable products recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) are accounted for in recycling rates.

Tom Giddings, Executive Director of Alupro, commented: “Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and therefore plays a central role in the circular economy of tomorrow. Indeed, nearly 75% of all aluminium ever produced worldwide is still in use today – a remarkable statistic.

“With the UK Government having set a target of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042, and aiming to work towards use of only recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025, the industry needs to embrace significant change. As a result, we anticipate more brands switching to sustainable packaging options – like aluminium. Having the systems in place to maximise recycling rates is therefore key to achieving ambitious goals.

“Alupro’s Aluminium Manifesto outlines the views of the aluminium packaging industry and details the changes needed to realise a more sustainable future for our waste. It’s our stake in the ground to tackle challenges, harness opportunities and embrace change to deliver a world-class national recycling system.”

Ruth Jones MP, Shadow Minister (EFRA), concluded: “I welcome Alupro’s manifesto to improve recycling rates across the UK. This is very timely and highlights how aluminium is the perfect material for a circular economy as it is infinitely recyclable.

Tackling waste is a priority for me as Shadow Waste Minister and I call on the Government to pay due regard to the principles of waste hierarchy and a circular economy. In particular, I welcome the manifesto’s focus on the important role of local authorities in the fight to improve recycling rates.

I look forward to working with all stakeholders in the industry to engage on these issues as we seek to protect and preserve our environment.”

 

For more information about our manifesto, or to download a PDF copy, visit alupro.org.uk/manifesto/

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Alupro campaign encourages schoolchildren to become recycling influencers

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, has launched an educational campaign to help KS3 pupils improve their knowledge about recycling. From 7th March, schools across the UK and Ireland will be invited to participate in the ‘Bin-fluencers’ campaign, which brings resource efficiency into the classroom in a fun and engaging way.

Comprising a series of fact-filled animations, packed with practical challenges, Bin-fluencers explores the benefits of recycling, the unique properties of packaging materials and the link between consumption and the environment. Supporting teaching notes, curriculum links, quiz questions and challenge sheets will be available to download from the Learning Aluminium website.

After watching the animations, pupils are challenged to create their own influencer-inspired video to share what they’ve learnt via the classroom, home or social media channels. The most creative entry will win an iPad, alongside £500 worth of vouchers for their school.

Tom Giddings, general manager of Alupro, commented: “We believe that educating pupils about recycling and inspiring the next generation to become sustainability influencers will help to drive ever-increasing recycling rates. We’re looking forward to rolling-out our latest campaign and supporting teachers as they work with their classes to promote the benefits of recycling.

“Bin-fluencers is the latest in a long line of educational initiatives created by Alupro to make recycling more appealing to primary and secondary school pupils. We hope that our comprehensive learning resources make it easy for teachers to integrate recycling into the curriculum and fun for pupils to participate in!”

For more information about the Bin-fluencers campaign, or to download the campaign resources, visit www.learningaluminium.co.uk. To find out more about Alupro, visit www.alupro.org.uk.

 

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Tom Giddings appointed Alupro’s Executive Director

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, has announced the appointment of Tom Giddings as Executive Director. Previously Interim General Manager, Giddings takes up the role with immediate effect.

As Executive Director, Giddings will be responsible for leading Alupro as it works to fulfil the industry’s obligation to meet, and exceed, recycling targets for aluminium packaging. He will act as the independent voice of the industry on issues of government policy and legislative development and will also spearhead Alupro’s Every Can Counts and MetalMatters consumer education programmes.

Having joined Alupro in June 2020 as Sustainability and Public Affairs Manager, Giddings has firmly positioned himself as a driving force within the sector. Prior to joining Alupro, he held the role of Sustainability Data and Reporting Manager at international packaging provider DS Smith, where he was responsible for the continuous improvement of sustainability initiatives.

Commenting on his new role, Giddings said: “Taking up the position of Executive Director, at such a pivotal time for the industry, is incredibly exciting. The opportunities ahead are significant and I’m looking forward to building on excellent progress to drive even higher aluminium packaging recycling rates in the future.

“Alongside acting as the independent voice of the industry, a key focus of my role will include sharing Alupro’s expertise and working to further stimulate the UK’s collection infrastructure. Inspiring collaboration across value chains and sectors is key to achieving this goal and will prove pivotal in both seizing opportunities and tackling recycling challenges head-on.

“I’m committed to promoting the benefits of aluminium packaging and celebrating its role within a sustainable, circular, low-carbon future. With enviable properties and infinite recyclability, aluminium will remain at the forefront of the packaging industry for years to come.

“But while the future looks bright, the present is just as exciting. Earlier this week, Alupro announced a collaboration with Fun Kids that aims to improve national recycling knowledge. In addition, over the next few weeks, we’re set to launch our educational programmes for 2022. These initiatives are key to ensuring best practice recycling remains front of mind for generations to come – through our creative campaigns, we’re working hard to inspire the recycling influencers of tomorrow.”

Fun Kids launch aluminium recycling podcast series

Fun Kids, the UK’s leading radio station for children, families and parents, is broadcasting a series of ten engaging podcast episodes about the benefits of aluminium recycling. Broadcasting on Fun Kids at 5.30pm from Monday 14 February, and available to download from the Fun Kids website, the series is aimed at KS2 and KS3 pupils.

In each episode, characters Max, Alisha and Mum learn more about aluminium packaging, how it’s made and how best to recycle it. Alongside discussing the challenges of contamination, the trio explore the reprocessing of recycled aluminium, visiting a wide range of locations to explain its infinite circularity.

Coming as part of a wider national initiative to get primary and secondary school pupils excited about recycling, the series has been co-created by the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro). Through its Learning Aluminium website, parents, pupils, carers and teachers can download further free resources to help build knowledge about packaging materials and recycling best practice.

Tom Giddings, general manager of Alupro, commented: “Over the past few years, aluminium packaging recycling rates have continued to increase across the UK. With sustainability, emissions and the environment continuing to rise up the national agenda, recycling is becoming a key part of everyday life.

“But while increasing volumes is excellent news indeed, recycling isn’t just a short-term concern. As resources become scarcer and material demand continues to increase, recycling will quickly become pivotal to maintaining the global supply chain. Our latest educational campaign therefore focuses on the next generation – educating them about the importance of recycling and encouraging them to separate their used packaging materials from a young age.”

Gregory Watson, managing director of Fun Kids, added: “Sustainability and recycling is an important topic for children to learn about. We’re delighted to be hosting this podcast series in partnership with Alupro – making the process fun and engaging for all the family.

“We’re confident that it will prove a valuable resource for thousands of pupils, helping them to gain a greater understanding of the aluminium industry and the vital importance of recycling used packaging materials.”

The brand new podcast series will be launched on Monday 14 February (5.30pm) and broadcast daily for an initial 4 weeks. To celebrate the launch, Fun Kids is also running a competition, both on-air and online, to win an exciting prize.

For more information about the podcast series, or to subscribe to each of the ten episodes, visit www.funkidslive.com. To download further KS2 and KS3 aluminium recycling resources, visit www.learningaluminium.co.uk. Fun Kids is available across the UK on DAB digital radio, and online at visit www.funkidslive.com.

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Alupro launches ‘the lonely aerosol’ campaign

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, has launched a digital engagement campaign to encourage consumers to recycle their empty aerosol cans. Running between 18 January and mid-March, ‘the lonely aerosol’ will see social media users targeted with a series of creative digital animations.

Sharing best practice recycling advice, each animated character has been specifically created to represent the diversity of aerosol containers found within the home. From ‘Pump up the Volume’ a glamorous hairspray can to ‘Any Old Oil’ a wise old oil can in the garage, the fun personalities will educate viewers about the critical importance of aerosol recycling.

The online campaign is part of a wider cross-industry programme, spearheaded by Alupro and run in partnership with members Ball Aerocan and the British Aerosol Manufacturers association (BAMA), which seeks to establish a proper baseline for aerosol recycling rates and address the issue of aerosol recycling in a post-DRS collection system. Although 95% of UK councils offer a kerbside aerosol recycling collection, it is estimated that only 46% of aerosols are correctly separated for recycling by consumers, so it’s evident that greater awareness is needed.

Tom Giddings, general manager of the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), commented: “With the introduction of a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) set to be introduced across England in 2024, estimates suggest that more than 70% of drinks cans will be removed from kerbside recycling stream almost overnight. This makes it imperative to improve recycling rates for other forms of aluminium packaging – including aerosol containers.

“However, when considered on their own, aerosols consistently top WRAP’s annual list of confusing consumer packaging types. Furthermore, our own research has found that householders are more likely to landfill aerosol containers than separate them for recycling – a hugely disappointing statistic.

“Our digital engagement campaign, ‘the lonely aerosol’, aims to convey an important message. As a society, we need to improve packaging recycling rates and, as an industry, we need to be aware that changes to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation will require evidence of good recycling performance.

“We’re confident that our digital engagement campaign will prove hugely valuable in increasing national awareness of the need to recycle aerosol containers and sharing best practice of how best to do so.”

For more information about Alupro, or ‘the lonely aerosol’ campaign, visit recyclealuminium.org.uk. To find out how you can get involved in the cross-industry programme, contact info@alupro.org.uk

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Creative campaign encourages residents to recycle aluminium foil

An educational initiative to increase aluminium foil collection and recycling rates has been rolled out by the Forest of Dean District Council. Delivered in partnership with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) and the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA), the programme will see card hangers affixed to 37,000 refuse bins across the region.

Reminding residents which foil packaging items can be recycled and which will contaminate local collections, the campaign aims to drive a significant increase in aluminium packaging recycling rates. Alongside detailing best practice advice, the hangers explain how aluminium foil should be prepared for recycling.

Councillor Sid Phelps, Cabinet Member for Environment at the Forest of Dean District Council, commented: “While local residents are confident about recycling most types of metal packaging, we’ve recently introduced foil recycling to our kerbside services and wanted to provide householders with a simple guide to help maximise collection volumes.

“Rather than posting a flyer or leaflet, we wanted to roll-out something a little more visual to really grab the attention of residents. Simple, engaging and 100% recyclable, we’re confident that the bin hangers will help to further increase metal packaging recycling rates across the region.”

Tom Giddings, general manager of Alupro, added: “We’re looking forward to seeing the bin hangers printed and distributed across the Forest of Dean. From experience, initiatives like this really help to improve resident engagement and improve recycling rates, so we’re expecting hugely positive results!

“Last year, more aluminium packaging was recycled in the UK than ever before. While this is excellent news, educating householders and providing them with the latest recycling guidance is essential to further improving this figure.”

The bin hangers have been fully funded by Alupro and EAFA. With funding remaining for similar programmes, Alupro is welcoming applications from local authorities across the UK.

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Aluminium packaging recycling rates continue to increase, shows Q2 PRN data

According to data released by the Environment Agency in August, 42,243 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling in Q2 2021 – an increase of almost 5% compared to the same period in 2020 (40,903 tonnes).

 

So far in 2021, 84,090 tonnes have been collected in total (an increase of more than 7,000 tonnes compared to Jan-Jun 2020), including more than 59,000 tonnes from kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems (up 11%), as well as c.23,000 tonnes recovered from incinerator bottom ash (up 7%).

 

With a target of 66% and a carry-in of 8,326 tonnes, the sector is on track to once again surpass its collection goal and achieve a record-breaking recycling rate. Indeed, according to the Environment Agency data, 67% of the annual target has already been achieved.

 

Tom Giddings, general manager of Alupro, commented: “In 2020, the UK reached its highest ever rate for aluminium packaging recycling (68%*), including an impressive 82%** for aluminium beverage cans. With numerous national lockdowns, remote working and reduced commuting, home consumption increased significantly. This saw kerbside collection rates soar.

 

“It’s pleasing to see that, despite higher targets and a return to the workplace, the UK has maintained record-breaking rates. Indeed, we’re over two-thirds of the way to achieving our 2021 target at only half way through the year!

 

“Such impressive figures can be attributed to greater public awareness about the benefits of aluminium recycling and positive action towards improving resource efficiency. While it’s difficult to predict trends for the rest of the year, we are optimistic that collection tonnages will continue to prove positive. As such, it’s important that we celebrate these successes, while maintaining focus on our goal of achieving close to 100% aluminium recycling across the UK.”

 

For more information about Alupro, or its MetalMatters and Every Can Counts behavioural change programmes, visit www.alupro.org.uk. To access the latest aluminium packaging recycling data, visit the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).

 

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*National Packaging Waste Data (NPWD) reports 2020 sales based on 2019 actual volumes. Rather than using 2019 production/sales volumes (as reported on NPWD) to determine the aluminium packaging recycling rate, the figure referenced in the text above (68%) uses predictive data for 2020 to provide a more accurate calculation. If 2019 production/sales volumes were used, the aluminium packaging recycling rate for 2020 would be 71%.

 

**The drinks can recycling rate is calculated based on sales data reported confidentially by drinks can manufacturers.