Aluminium recycling rates in Europe rose again in 2017 to 74.5 percent, a 2.3-percent bump from the year prior and good for another record high for the continent. Such was the story told by statistics released by the European Aluminium Association on Monday.
Per the numbers, which took into account recycling across the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, almost 31 billion cans were recycled in those areas in 2017. The total tonnage of recycled cans that year reached 420 thousand metric tons, further boosting Europe’s circular economy.
Going forward, European aluminium can manufacturers say they expect even greater increases thanks to a new PMD collection system consisting of color-coded bags and bins and incentive-based initiatives like deposit return and voluntary take-back programs. In addition, the Association says aluminium producers and aluminium can manufacturers continue to look for ways to invest in new recycling methods and additional recycling capacity in partnership with public and private waste-management firms, as recycling aluminium requires 95 percent less energy than production of primary aluminium from bauxite ore.
Recycling aluminium pays dividends for the environment as well, as recycled aluminium produces only 5 percent as much greenhouse gases as production of an equivalent amount of primary aluminium, saving the atmosphere from the effects of 3 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per annum at present recycling rates.
“We believe that the new European calculation method will hardly impact the final recycling rates being achieved for aluminium beverage cans,” opined Leonie Knox-Peebles, Metal Packaging Europe’s CEO.
Maarten Labberton, Director Packaging Group at European Aluminium, noted the importance of yields in aluminium recycling.
“As we move towards our 100% recycling rate target, what matters most is the recycling yields; aluminium is well positioned for the future given its very low losses during recycling.”
Founded in 1981, European Aluminium is an association of over 80 members engaged along the entirety of the aluminium value chain. The association represents over 600 plants in 30 European countries.