estimated that 80% of all the metal ever produced is still available for use
a real stop-in-your-tracks statistic.
this statistic is doubly important when you consider the current spotlight on how
much packaging waste ends up in the sea and in landfill, and a general tendency
for the public and politicians to lump all packaging materials in together. This
figure underlines the important fact that cans are simply not a part of that
our sector we’ve known that for years of course, but I wonder now if that vital
message is at last hitting home to a much wider audience?
Glastonbury Festival always attracts a harsh media spotlight for its residual
waste – and yes, sadly, much of it is packaging. Yet this year, and
interestingly the year in which Sir David Attenborough gave an inaugural
address, I was delighted to see national news coverage presenting water in
reusable cans as a sustainable alternative to other materials at the event, and
a positive solution to packaging waste. And if not reused, then those cans
would certainly be collected and easily separated for recycling.
brings me to one of the key elements of recycling, waste separation.
widely accepted that the earlier in the chain that household waste is separated
the better. And whatever the final outcomes of the current DRS consultation,
the fact remains that local authorities representing over 6m households have
now signed up to MetalMatters which encourages home separation and recycling of
metal packaging and importantly as far as any potential DRS scheme is
concerned, kerbside collection.
Every Can Counts campaign also continues to play a vital role encouraging recycling
of drinks cans wherever they are consumed, be it in the workplace, at college,
at major events like music festivals, or even just out and about.
reiterate previous MPMA statements that the proven success and impact of these
campaigns really do matter in the DRS consultation process.
the ease with which metal can be separated from the waste stream is also an important
part of its recycling success.
magnetic properties means that cans are easily lifted out from other materials in
the waste stream. Similarly, with aluminium cans, the use of eddy current fields
literally throws the cans into their own collection bin thus ensuring they are
separated as easily as steel packaging from other materials.
addition, because of the properties of metal packaging, in the unlikely event
that they are missed at the sorting stage, and end up in an incinerator, all is
still not lost. Metal packaging can and is collected from the bottom ash of
waste incinerators. In fact, the metal recycling industry even has a formal
material grade for bottom ash collected metal packaging.
only downside is that metal packaging collected in this way is not always counted
as part of the metal packaging recycling figures because it is not always
entered on the National Packaging Waste Database. This in turn means that the
real recycling figures for metal packaging are actually even better than the
excellent levels currently being reported.
80% figure ‘still available for use’ figure never fails to excite. It reminds
us, if we need reminding, that metal has amongst the highest recycling rates of
all comparable packaging materials, with 100% recycling a very real
wonder it’s a headliner.
Director & Chief