Aluminium is widely collected for recycling in the UK by local authorities because it is very valuable; in fact, aluminium packaging is the most valuable material in your recycling bin!
Once collected aluminium is easily separated from packaging made of other materials using an Eddy Current Separator, which uses an electrical current to ‘throw’ items made of aluminium into a different container. These are commonly installed throughout sorting centres in the UK. The separated aluminium is then sent to a recycling plant.
At the recycling plant, the sorted aluminium packaging is shredded into small pieces, before being passed through an oven that burns off any paint or lacquer on the packaging.
The clean, silvery material is then melted in a furnace at over 650oC before being cast into ingots, which are then sent to rolling mills that transform them into sheets of metal suitable for the final application (e.g. foil containers or beverage cans).
Finally, the sheets are converted back into packaging products ready to be filled with your favourite food or drinks.