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Can recyclers in Europe set new record

The recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in the European Union (plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) remains stable at almost 76%, although a record 488 000 tonnes of the metal was recycled in 2019.

Industry players cite growing can consumption as a major factor for the increase in recycling which represents total greenhouse gas emissions savings of four million tonnes of CO₂. While the figure reported by Metal Packaging Europe and European Aluminium is seen as encouraging, the associations believe recycling rates could be even higher ‘with some extra effort’. They launched a joint 2030 Roadmap in March which envisions a 100% can recycling rate in the next decade.

‘We would like to see more countries moving towards modern and well-designed deposit return systems, allowing for an optimal use of the high scrap value and quality of the collected aluminium cans,’ says Maarten Labberton, director Packaging Group at European Aluminium.

‘Although used cans are also recycled into a wide range of other valuable end-use products like bikes or electric vehicles, the most efficient solution is to use them again in the production of new cans,’ he adds. ‘No other type of beverage packaging can reach such high recycling rates whilst using so little primary material, resulting in product circularity as well as carbon emissions reductions.’

Léonie Knox-Peebles, ceo of Metal Packaging Europe adds: ‘With an increasing demand for fully circular packaging systems, the aluminium beverage can, which is made from an endlessly recyclable material, is the ideal alternative to less sustainable packaging options. ‘We now need to work together to make sure that even more used cans are correctly disposed of and recycled so that we reach our ambitious 2030 goal. We are confident that the credentials highlighted in our Metal Recycles Forever logo will incite consumers to do just that.’

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