The European Aluminium Association (EAA) is confident that the aluminium beverage can recycling rate will further increase towards the voluntary targets set by the industry for 2015 (75 per cent) and 2020 (80 per cent). However, in order to achieve these ambitious levels, it is important for the full value chain involved in the recycling of cans to continue to invest in existing and additional collection and sorting facilities.
Extended producer responsibility schemes should recognize the scrap value of well-sorted aluminium packaging fractions and, together with the local authorities responsible for the collection of various packaging (and household) waste streams, should use modern sorting technologies such as advanced eddy current separators. Equally important is the role of the consumers, who are willing to sort a limited number of packaging items provided that the various national collection and sorting systems in place are accessible and easy to use. Consistent sorting instructions are instrumental in obtaining less polluted fractions, which can be subsequently easily recycled.
Awareness programmes such as the ‘Every Can Counts’ campaign originally developed by the aluminium industry in conjunction with the can-makers in the UK, but now implemented in 7 other countries, are helpful when it comes to focusing in particular on the need to also collect and recycle the ‘out-of-home’ cans consumed at the workplace and at festivals and sport events.
More ambitious packaging recycling goals needed
In view of the upcoming revision of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the EAA stresses the need for more ambitious household packaging recycling goals, including the gradual phasing-out of landfill of all recyclables such as aluminium (and other metal) packaging. Additional recovery of metals from the bottom ashes of waste incinerators are a useful but ‘second best’ option. Preference should be given to separate collection of the metal packaging fraction.
EAA urges the authorities to improve the transparency of national and European packaging recovery data, and recommends that actual recycling be reported (instead of collection for recycling).