A report released by the Aluminum Association earlier this week detailed the significant advances aluminium cans have made over competing packaging materials over the past several years, noting the significant sustainability advantages the material offers when compared to other substances now in use.
The report, which was prepared in conjunction with the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), revealed that aluminium cans were recycled at almost twice the rate of glass and plastic containers, allowing the recycled content of the average aluminium can now in use to rise by 3 percent to 73 percent. As a result, the value of scrap aluminium can is significantly more valuable than that of glass and plastic, which the report says means that recycled aluminium essentially subsidizes the recycling of other materials in the recycling stream.
Robert Budway, President & CEO of CMI, emphasized the importance of recycling aluminium cans to sustainability.
“Can manufacturers take great pride in providing the most sustainable package in the world. When consumers have finished enjoying their favorite beverages in aluminum cans, they should go the extra mile to recycle aluminum cans. Cans are the backbone of our country’s recycling system, and every can properly recycled makes a significant, positive impact in saving resources for future generations.”
“For every 5 percent increase in consumer recycling [of aluminum], approximately $100 million in aluminum value is saved from landfills,” he continued. “It is no exaggeration to say that the modern recycling system could not work economically without the contributions of aluminum.”
Among the other findings in the report was the rise of the rate of consumer recycling over the past year, from 45.8 percent in 2017 to 49.8 percent last year. Average recycled content continues to rise as well, far surpassing glass (23 percent) and plastic (3 percent), while the value of aluminium can scrap is by far the most valuable of all recycled content at US$1,317 per ton.
The Aluminum Association’s Vice President for Policy & International Trade Lauren Wilk underlined the vast superiority of aluminium to every other packaging material now in use.
“The aluminum can continues to out-perform the competition on virtually every measure of environmental performance. During a time when more and more consumers are demanding sustainable products, aluminum’s inherent value and infinite recyclability provides a unique competitive advantage for the can.”
“The economic logic is simple,” concluded Wilk, “the more aluminum we can return back to the recycling stream, the healthier the overall system.”