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Bottom ash a major source of metals

Europe – Collection of metals from bottom ash at waste-to-energy plants can make an important contribution to a more resource-efficient Europe. The Packaging Group of the European Aluminium Association (EAA) and the Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants (CEWEP) estimate that, for Europe as a whole, up to 200 000 tonnes of additional aluminium could be recycled each year from this ash, which is the residue from combusted household waste.

To realise this goal, both organisations are calling on more local waste management operators to invest in the right separation equipment and on EU member states to take a more ambitious approach to preventing landfilling. Several European countries are already recycling valuable ingredients from bottom ash. Typically, one tonne of this ash contains between 10% and 15% ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including 15 to 20 kg of aluminium.

However, both EAA and CEWEP stress that the preferred option remains the pre-sorting and selective collection of used aluminium packaging items such as beverage cans, aerosol cans and food containers.

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