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UK aluminium recycling shines

Aluminium packaging recycling rates in the UK exceeded their total target for 2020 with three months of the year still remaining. Nationally, most materials are ahead of target with paper already on nearly 98%.

Official Government data indicates that 42 265 tonnes of aluminium packaging collected for recycling in Q3, an increase of 41% compared to the same period in 2019 and 4% higher than the previous quarter in 2020 (40 653 tonnes). To date in 2020, 119 198 tonnes of aluminium packaging has been collected for recycling, an increase of 48% compared to the same period in 2019.

Recycling rates between 70-80%

The annual requirement for the industry was 113 390 tonnes, meaning that aluminium has already exceeded the target by more than 5%.

Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, an industry funded, not-for-profit organisation, said: ‘Assuming volumes remain high and residents continue to consume at home rather than on-the-go, we could see recycling rates reach close to 70% for all aluminium packaging and more than 80% for aluminium beverage cans before the end of the year.’

Covid-19 impact

Meanwhile, waste recycling and recovery targets until 2022 for all packaging materials are said to be ‘broadly achievable’ according to the UK’s latest PackFlow reports. These are published collectively by packaging compliance specialist Valpak, sustainability charity WRAP and the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment and are an official reference source for the Government. Whilst being positive on the data, the reports say these short-term targets will be ‘challenging’ because of the impact of Covid-19 and related issues.

Key tool

Claire Shrewsbury, head of Government and communities at WRAP, said: ‘Having accurate, up-to-date information on the movement of materials in the economy is vital to inform packaging recycling targets and discussions around extended producer responsibility. The Packflow reports remain a key tool for both business, and governments.

‘What these reports highlight perhaps most clearly is the robustness of the recycling sector in responding to Covid-19. The sector has faced challenges but responded to them by adapting and finding end markets.’

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