Aluminium packaging hits 68% recycling rate in 2023

According to annual data published on the National Packaging Waste Database by the Environment Agency, * the UK’s aluminium packaging recycling rate hit an impressive 68% in 2023. A record-breaking 162,357 tonnes were recycled nationwide, including more than four in five beverage cans (81%).

Despite a rapidly growing domestic market, aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems increased by 13% year-on-year (115,382, compared to 102,195 in 2022). Elsewhere, tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) shot up by 17% (45,632 compared to 38,982).

Commenting on the announcement, Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, said: “I’m delighted to announce record-breaking recycling volumes for 2023. While more aluminium packaging was placed on the domestic market than last year, it’s pleasing to see that recycling rates have more than kept up with pace.

“As an industry, we’ve been investing heavily in optimising our collection and recycling infrastructure for the past 20 years and we’re now reaping the rewards of this long-term commitment. Despite ongoing delays and uncertainty surrounding proposed changes to national recycling legislation, the sector is continuing to deliver over and above annual targets.

“Aluminium is quickly becoming a material of choice for many brands, hence the growth of the domestic market. Alongside boasting a wide range of superior benefits for packaging applications, it’s a safe material to work with from a sustainability perspective. Having robust national recycling systems in place is the icing on the cake, enabling used packaging to be recycled over and over again – the perfect circular economy.”

Chris Latham-Warde of Every Can Counts, Alupro’s communications programme aimed at driving drink can recycling, added: “Such an impressive 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 MetalMatters have continued to engage with consumers across the UK and Ireland to inspire further progress when it comes to improving recycling rates at home and on the go.

“As we continue into 2024, we remain optimistic that the impact of these initiatives will help to further improve best practice recycling behaviours and drive collection figures even higher.”

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

* Data sourced from the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD).

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Alupro launches updated Aluminium Manifesto for 2024

Earlier this week (30 April), Alupro published a refreshed version of its pioneering Aluminium Manifesto. Initially launched in 2022, the Aluminium Manifesto outlines the views of the aluminium packaging industry and details the changes needed to deliver a world-class recycling system for the UK.

Alongside highlighting the positive progress made to date, including discussions surrounding the Simpler Recycling policy and a binary labelling system, the 2024 update also identifies where more progress is needed. This includes addressing confusion around Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the need for sector-specific innovation support.

Its seven key asks call for changes to existing infrastructure, consistent communications and well-designed legislation.

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, commented: “Aluminium packaging plays a vital role in achieving a circular economy. Our updated manifesto not only serves as a progress report, but also as a renewed call to action for the entire aluminium packaging supply chain.

“Our industry is incredibly proud of the improvement in recycling rates we’ve achieved over the last 10 years, with over 80% of beverage cans and nearly 70% of all aluminium packaging being recycled in recent years. More remarkable still, this has been driven on a voluntary basis by Alupro members, but we’re reaching the limit of what’s possible without significant regulatory support.

“Our manifesto outlines seven key requests needed to deliver a world-class recycling system for the UK and, while we’re encouraged by the small steps made in the past two years, there’s still work to be done. We hope that it will serve as a roadmap to achieve a 100% recycling rate for aluminium packaging, foster collaboration and maximise the contribution of aluminium packaging to a circular economy in the UK.”

To read or download the updated manifesto, visit: https://alupro.org.uk/sustainability/manifesto-update-2024/.

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DRS delay disappointing, but far from unexpected, says Alupro

Last week (25 April), the UK government published a statement confirming a delay to the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for drinks containers to October 2027.

Alongside the delay, DEFRA revealed that decisions had been reached regarding joint registration and reporting, labelling, reciprocal returns, deposit level, minimum container size, and low volume sales. In addition, they reiterated that glass drink containers would be excluded from the scheme in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, on the grounds of ‘undue complexity’ and ‘handling costs’.

Commenting on the announcement, Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, said: “Given the recent lack of progress, the long lead time needed for implementation and rumours of a delay circulating for a number of months now, today’s announcement is far from a surprise. However, with the policy first announced in 2018 and two consultations subsequently held in 2019 and 2021, it’s hugely disappointing that the scheme will have taken almost a decade since its inception to come to fruition.

“Developed with the ambition of further driving recycling rates, as well as reducing litter and plastic pollution, a well-designed DRS provides a once in a generation opportunity to revolutionise the circular economy of drinks containers. We have always wholeheartedly supported its implementation, with a number of important caveats, as outlined within our aluminium manifesto.

“It’s frustrating to hear that the Government is putting its head in the sand when it comes to embracing an all-in scheme and supporting a fair and level playing field for all competing materials. Reversing this decision is probably somewhat of a foregone conclusion, however, even if excluded from the scheme, glass beverage containers should still be subject to equal collection and recycling targets under the EPR system.

“But material inclusion is just one of several decisions that still need clarifying. Now that the 2027 go live date has been confirmed, the Government must immediately turn its attention to ensuring that proactive decisions are made to ensure the scheme delivers the best possible long-term results.

“Firstly, it’s imperative that the DRS should embrace a variable rate deposit, supported by a maximum deposit level that allows flexibility. This is critical to prevent imbalance in the market for beverage containers sold in multipacks. We’ve seen such a system implemented just this year in the Republic of Ireland to great success.

“Secondly, it’s vital that the DRS is seen as a circular economy scheme, not an anti-litter one. Collected material should be accessible and available to the recyclers of aluminium packaging, as it is now. This means that, once collected, the scheme can facilitate the supply of new recycled beverage containers – such as aluminium cans.

“Finally, the scheme must recognise the role aluminium’s high value plays in funding the collection of aluminium cans in a DRS and use this to offset the costs for obligated can-using businesses only.

“While the process we’re currently going through has been thwarted with delays and change, we should not focus entirely on the negatives. Despite frustrations, the introduction of the scheme should be seen as a positive and, as an industry, we need work hard to maximise its long-term impact.

“Ensuring legislation is robust and delivers the maximum possible impact is pivotal. The government must therefore make big and well-informed decisions to create a dependable system for the future. After all, to achieve an effective DRS, we need to work collaboratively. Doing so is essential if we are to roll out a scheme that improves recycling rates and reduces litter, while also creating a system that works and sets the international standards for success.”

For more information about our manifesto click here.

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Local schoolchildren treated to interactive recycling workshop

Earlier this month (March), KS2 pupils from Thomas Russell Junior School in Burton-on-Trent were treated to an interactive aluminium recycling workshop, after student Elsie Burgess (8) took home first place in a national competition.

Organised by the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro), the competition saw thousands of primary pupils from all over the UK tasked with designing the graphics for a brand new recycling bin. According to the judges, Elsie’s winning entry brought passion and creativity to the challenge of increasing recycling rates.

As her prize, Elsie’s design has been created and delivered to her school. In addition, her classmates were also treated to a hands-on recycling workshop run by social enterprise Casting Innovations.

Demonstrating the aluminium recycling process in a safe and controlled environment, the workshop saw drink cans melted down and cast into moulds. Each pupil took home a recycled keyring to remind them about the importance of recycling.

Claire Boot, education officer at Alupro, commented: “Educating the next generation is an important part of our work here at the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation and we’re delighted to see the continued impact of the Masters of Infinity programme. We were so impressed with this year’s entries, but Elsie’s design really stood out.”

Mrs Kerr-Delworth, teacher at Thomas Russell Junior School, added: “I came across the Masters of Infinity resources when I was looking for a project for my Climate Changers – an inspirational bunch of year 6 pupils who are passionate about their role in looking after our planet – and was immediately drawn to it.

“The resources are brilliant as they have child-friendly graphics and a theme – beat LandPhil – but the language and facts behind this don’t talk down to children and are incredibly informative and engaging. The Climate Changers led an assembly to introduce the rest of the school to the resources and the competition but next time we will be incorporating the work into our PSHE curriculum time to really do it justice. What a find!”

For more information about our educational resources, visit www.learningaluminium.co.uk.

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‘Munch, scrunch, recycle!’ this Easter, says Alupro

Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, is hopping into spring with the launch of its latest easter-themed promotional campaign, ‘Munch, Scrunch, Recycle!’. Aimed at local authorities, the programme will encourage residents to think more carefully about their waste this Easter.

Each year, around 80 million Easter eggs are bought in the UK, , most of which are wrapped in recyclable aluminium foil. This week, as part of the campaign, Alupro will encourage local authorities to download a library of social media images and animations – available in English and Welsh – to promote responsible recycling.

The assets, available to download from the Alupro website, are designed to encourage residents to scrunch and recycle their foil after enjoying their Easter treats.

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, commented: “Easter is a time for celebration and indulgence, but with foil packaging used to protect Easter eggs each year, it’s also important to remember to dispose of our waste responsibly.

“Aluminium packaging is infinitely recyclable, and with a little scrunch, it can be transformed into something new. By encouraging  the public to recycle their aluminium packaging this Easter, local authorities can help protect our environment and ensure this valuable resource stays in use for longer.”

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re3 waste partnership launches foil recycling campaign

re3, the waste partnership covering Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham Borough Councils, has joined forces with Alupro to roll-out a creative campaign encouraging residents to recycle their aluminium foil.

Aluminium is endlessly recyclable, and recycling it saves 95% of the energy used to make aluminium from raw materials. To recycle, simply scrunch your wrapping foil, foil lids or chocolate foil into a ball the size of a fist and pop into your recycling bin.

Foil trays should be wiped or rinsed to remove food residue, there’s no need to run the tap, just a quick swill in the bowl at the end of the washing up is usually sufficient.

Launching today, the “Fantastic Foil” initiative will target households through a paid social media campaign and promotional signage at the re3 Recycling Centres. In addition, pupils from across the three boroughs will be invited to take part in a competition to create a spring-themed sculpture from clean, used aluminium foil.

Entries for the competition will close after the Easter holiday on 19th April, with three winners each taking home a £20 voucher. Their school will also receive £100 in vouchers to spend on books, supplies and activities.

In a joint statement re3 Joint Waste Disposal Board Members: Cllr Karen Rowland, Chairman of the Joint Waste Disposal Board and Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Environmental Services and Community Safety; Cllr Ian Shenton, Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Leisure and Cllr Helen Purnell, Bracknell Forest Council’s Executive Member for the Environment and Community Cohesion, commented: “We’re on a mission to help residents waste less and recycle more. Rolling out this campaign will enable us to improve awareness and education about the importance of best practice foil (and other aluminium packaging) recycling, with the aim of further improving consumer engagement and increasing capture rates in result. A key part of the campaign is working closely with our local schools to educate and inspire the next generation. We’re looking forward to seeing their creativity shine.”

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, added: “We’re delighted to working with re3 to raise awareness of the importance of recycling aluminium packaging. Since launching in 2017, our foil campaign has reached more than 2.5 million households, with data suggesting that it really helps to drive a positive uplift in kerbside recycling rates. We’re looking forward to seeing the widespread impact of the campaign, as well as helping to judge creative entries from hundreds of budding sculptors across Berkshire!”

To find out more about re3, visit www.re3.org.uk

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About the competition:

More information about the competition, including T&Cs  can be found on the dedicated page on re3 website:

https://re3.fccenvironment.co.uk/fantastic-foil-recycling/

 

About re3 (www.re3.org.uk)

re3 is a waste management partnership between Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham Borough Councils and FCC Environment. The partnership’s aims are to develop solutions for the management of waste in Central Berkshire and to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle more of their waste.

MetalMatters recycling campaign rolls out across West Devon

MetalMatters, the industry-supported campaign that encourages households to recycle their cans, foil, empty aerosols, trays, tubes and metal screw tops, has been rolled out by West Devon Borough Council.

As part of continued efforts to improve kerbside recycling rates, the initiative will see residents across the region receive an informative leaflet posted directly through their letterbox. Targeting more than 26,000 homes across the borough, the campaign aims to raise widespread awareness of how best to recycle used metal packaging.

Since its launch in 2012, MetalMatters has been adopted by hundreds of local authorities across the UK. Designed to support kerbside recycling schemes, MetalMatters can be run by any local authority, either region-wide, by collection round or even by demographic targeting.

Commenting on the announcement, Cllr Lynn Daniel, Lead Member for Environment at West Devon Borough Council, said: “Our goal is to increase recycling rates and reduce waste by identifying environmentally responsible ways to meet the needs of our local communities.

“MetalMatters will allow us to engage with residents across West Devon, encouraging them to think about their recycling habits and how best to dispose of their metal packaging. Metal is endlessly recyclable, so it’s one of the most sustainable materials that we have.”

Cllr Mandy Ewings, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, added: “Many residents are already committed to recycling and reducing waste, which is great news, but we can do more. It’s worth remembering that every aluminium can you recycle saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours – so putting your metal packaging into your recycling container can make a big difference.”

Tom Giddings, Executive Director of Alupro, concluded: “For more than a decade, our MetalMatters programme has been educating the public about the benefits and importance of recycling metal packaging. We’re confident that the introduction of this campaign will help to drive an increase in recycling rates and households taking positive action across West Devon.

“For us, the most important message is that metal is highly recyclable, meaning the quality and properties of the metal will be unchanged during the recycling process. Making a few small changes can add up to a big environmental impact.”

Funded by the metal packaging industry, MetalMatters aims to educate householders about the benefits of metal packaging and encourages them to adopt best practice recycling behaviours. For more information about MetalMatters, visit: www.metalmatters.org.uk.

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Lindal Group joins the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative

Lindal Group, a global leader in the design, manufacture and sale of specialist valves, actuators and spray caps used in aerosol products, has joined other key members in the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative as a funding partner.

Spearheaded by Alupro, the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative was launched in 2022 to increase awareness and uptake of aerosol recycling across the UK. Working towards a recycling rate of 50% by 2030, the programme brings together leading businesses and influencers from across the aerosol supply chain to inspire positive national change.

As a funding partner, Lindal Group will help to accelerate the initiative’s feasibility studies, data collection activities, pilot programmes and consumer engagement campaigns.

Thuy-Tien Nguyen, Global Sustainability Manager at Lindal Group, commented: “We’re delighted to join the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative as a funding partner. Being a major supplier to the global aerosol supply chain, we appreciate the challenges surrounding aerosol recycling and the imperative to both raise awareness and increase uptake.

“Programmes like this are essential to better understand consumer behaviours, address barriers and drive further improvements. Already, the initiative has made significant headway and delivered impressive results. We’re looking forward to supporting its future trajectory and accelerating national change.”

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, added: “Having the backing of Lindal Group will prove pivotal to achieving the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative’s three main ambitions – inspiring change, embracing a sustainable future and driving further progress towards a 50% aerosol recycling rate by 2030. We have big plans for the future and, with the support of our partners, will continue to inspire a national uplift in aluminium packaging recycling rates.”

For more information about the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative, click here.

About LINDAL Group

LINDAL Group is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of valves, actuators and spray caps used in aerosol products. The Hamburg, Germany-based company has more than 60 years of experience with innovative dispensing solutions for the cosmetics, household, health care, food and technical industries.

The LINDAL Group is represented by subsidiaries and licensees in more than 15 countries throughout Europe, Asia and The Americas. The company is renowned for its innovative designs, which deliver optimal functionality and return on investment. As a result, LINDAL aerosol dispensing solutions are the choice of the world’s most prestigious and trusted brands.

What the aluminium packaging recycling industry wants to see in 2024

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, looks to the year ahead and explains what the aluminium packaging recycling industry wants to see in 2024.

When we look back over the past 12 months, it’s likely to go down in history as a year of frustration for the packaging value chain. Delays to expected consultations, disappointing decisions from the government and fluctuating PRN prices all played their part.

However, there were, of course, numerous upsides too. Finally receiving a consultation response regarding DRS was a massive step in the right direction, while setting an official date for the mandatory recycling of kerbside and commercial food waste put real fire power behind tackling a growing environmental challenge.

In addition, while consistency in collections legislation may have been shelved as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s net-zero shake-up, Simpler Recycling will take us a welcome step forward towards a more uniform material scope for kerbside recycling collections and a higher recycling rate for England. It must be said that the opportunity for the future looks incredibly bright.

For those of us working towards achieving a more circular economy, it’s therefore important to see 2024 as a year of progress, decision-making and action – an opportunity to build momentum and drive real, positive, proactive change. From an aluminium perspective, this can be condensed down into three key asks:

  1. A record year for aluminium packaging recycling rates

Aluminium packaging recycling in the UK continues to go from strength to strength. Continued investment into awareness and education initiatives is helping to drive widespread behavioural change, with households appreciating both the environmental and economic value of best practice recycling.

The latest PRN data perfectly reflects this impressive growth. In September 2023, for example, the industry had already achieved 92% of its annual obligation (an uplift from 116,439 tonnes to 137,275 tonnes compared to the same period in 2022), with aluminium collected through kerbside, bring, on-the-go and via incinerator bottom ash (IBA) all rising.

While some industry critics had suggested that the high recycling rates reported during the COVID-19 pandemic were just a short-term trend, it’s positive to see that impressive volumes and positive consumer recycling behaviours have continued.

In 2024, we’d like to see even higher collection and recycling volumes of aluminium packaging. After all, we’re hugely ambitious about aluminium’s role within a circular packaging economy and we’re committed to leading from the front. If PRN prices remain realistic, we see no reason as to why this shouldn’t happen.

  1. Real progress when it comes to future legislation=

With policy now progressing fast, the next 12 months should be seen as a period of real opportunity. Specifically, we’d like to see progress made in appointing a DRS scheme administrator, as well as the detail of the scheme finally bottomed out. We’d also like to see further momentum made towards agreeing a series of decisions that will ensure the scheme’s best possible long-term output. You can read our thoughts in further detail here. 

Elsewhere, we welcome the formation of an EPR steering group and think that Margaret Bates is an excellent appointment as interim Head of the UK Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Scheme Administrator. Let’s now accelerate momentum and ensure that it delivers fair proposals, while securing widespread input from the wider supply chain.

  1. Clear, consistent, creative communication

As we move ever closer towards a bright new future for the recycling industry, relevant, timely and consistent communication is more important than ever. We’re proud to be continuing with our hugely successful aluminium packaging recycling programmes (MetalMatters and Every Can Counts) and remain committed to flying the flag – both in terms of awareness and education.

Our initiatives delivered widespread benefit in 2023 and proved instrumental in increasing consumer engagement across the UK. Results from our programmes highlighted the real value of communication, as well as changing consumer behaviours when it comes to best practice recycling.

In 2024, we’ll continue to lead by example. However, banging the drum when it comes to consumer education is a gauntlet that we all must pick up and I’d like to see this happening across the wider packaging value chain. After all, with new legislation looming and widespread change likely, communicating with clarity, consistency and creativity must remain our utmost priority.

While 2023 might go down on record as somewhat of a frustrating year, the next 12 months are perfectly positioned to deliver progress, decision-making and action. Personally, I believe that our most important priorities are striving to reach ever higher recycling rates, inspiring real momentum when it comes to future legislation, and communicating with clarity.

As a sector we have the opportunity to build real momentum. It’s certainly an exciting time ahead, but collaboration is key to achieving the best possible results.

For more information about the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, visit www.alupro.org.uk.

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Alupro to sponsor Letsreycle Communications Conference

Alupro, the Aluminium Packaging Organisation, has been announced as the latest sponsor of this year’s Letsrecycle Communications Conference. Taking place at the Hallam Centre in London (7 February), the event will bring together local authority waste management professionals from across the UK to celebrate progress and share best practice.

Exploring the latest communication strategies and technologies, the conference will showcase effective ways to enhance engagement and encourage behavioural change. Attendees will have the opportunity hear from industry leaders, take part in Q&A sessions and network with a variety of exhibitors.

Throughout the event, the Alupro team will be on-hand to share its latest campaigns, including MetalMatters – a consumer engagement programme designed to educate and inspire local communities about the benefits of recycling metal packaging. Already, the initiative has been rolled out by hundreds of councils nationwide, each of whom have reported an immediately positive impact on recycling rates.

Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, commented: “Letsrecycle Communications Conference is a key date in our calendar and we’re pleased to be sponsoring this year’s event. The team is looking forward to meeting delegates and discussing the positive impact that our campaigns can deliver.

“We firmly believe that collaboration can drive measurable change. If you’re looking for proven solutions to engage more closely with constituents, visit our stand and speak to the team – we’ll take you through our latest campaigns and explain how creative communication can really help to drive an uplift in recycling rates.

For more information about Alupro, or its latest campaigns, visit www.alupro.org.uk or meet the team at this year’s Letsrecycle Communications Conference.

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