The Endless Life of the Drink Can……..well 70% of them anyway

Working in the recycling industry can begin to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. In part, that’s down to the continual recycling of Government policy, but also going round in circles is what we’re supposed to do in the circular economy. But whereas our Governments often seem to be going round in ever decreasing circles, I’m pleased see that the sphere of aluminium recycling is an ever-increasing one. Alupro, our industry trade body recently announced that we have reached the landmark level of a 70% recycling rate for the aluminium can in 2016. That’s equivalent to 6.3 billion aluminium cans and a lot of progress since we opened our Warrington recycling plant in the early 1990’s when the recycling rate for aluminium cans was just 2%. . But even today, as aluminium is such a lightweight material that 6.3 billion cans is only about 100,000t of aluminium in a total of over 11 million tonnes recycled by UK households every year. That being said it’s a valuable 100,000t that by conservative estimates will generate £75 million, a more than positive return in any net cost calculation, easily able to cover its cost of collection, processing and transport.And with aluminium being a permanently available material, there is every chance that our Warrington can-to-can plant can take some of those 6.3 billion cans and reprocess the metal to make new cans again, and again. But as you might expect we’re not resting on our laurels. Not when there is 2.7 billion cans unaccounted for and another £32 million of value literally going to waste. That’s why if you look at the adjacent infographic you will see that as an industry


we’re continuing to support collection and communication programmes targeting household and ‘on the go’ consumption. Through MetalMatters and Every Can Counts, we hope to nudge the aluminium packaging recycling rates ever higher and towards the target levels being discussed in the EU Circular Economy Package.

As Novelis’ Warrington plant celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary we are looking back with pride on the value and support we have offered to the growth of recycling in the UK, but also forwards to what lies ahead. Or in these turbulent political times living by the maxim of ‘Keep calm and carry on recycling’. We will also be making our annual pilgrimage to Birmingham for the Recycling and Waste Management Exhibition and will once again be proud sponsors of the LARAC Conference in Nottingham. So do stop by and say hello, aluminium may only be a small part of the challenges we all face, but we like to think that at Novelis we tackle it well, and yes for us every can really does count…….