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Alupro to discover ‘real aluminium packaging recycling’ rate

The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) has commissioned Resource Futures to ascertain ‘the real aluminium packaging recycling figure’, as official recovery data shows low levels of reporting.

Finding the true recycling rate for aluminium packaging

According to the trade association for the UK's aluminium industry on issues relating to the recycling, the latest figures reported to the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) for the second quarter of 2015 (Q2) show that there are low levels of aluminium packaging recycling.

However, Alupro has expressed concern that the current packaging recovery note (PRN) system is not fit for purpose, as it requires voluntary accreditation by reprocessors and exporters, a ‘significant number’ of which have not maintained their accreditation due to the process being ‘too onerous’ and low value. It argues that large quantities of recycled packaging are therefore not being captured, and thus the aluminium packaging recycling rate ‘appears weaker than the reality’.

In an attempt to clarify the ‘true recycling rate’, it has commissioned environmental consultancy Resource Futures to research how much aluminium packaging is reprocessed or exported beyond that reported by the accredited organisations.

‘Helping shed light on the disparities’

Rick Hindley, Executive Director of Alupro, commented: “Following Q1 figures being lower than anticipated, the Q2 figures show a continuing shortfall (at 12,334 tonnes compared to the estimated 16,750 tonnes per quarter required to achieve the target). Alupro is confident that the results are the consequence of weaknesses in data collection rather than the performance of the recycling system itself, and is hoping that this new study by Resource Futures will show the true recycling performance and help shed light on the disparities.”

Bernie Thomas, Principal Consultant at Resource Futures, added: “Resource Futures is contacting reprocessors and exporters of aluminium that have been accredited in the past but are not currently in the system, to determine the additional amount of aluminium packaging being recycled but not reported.

“We are also contacting trade associations to help capture more missing data, to help build a more complete picture.”

It is hoped that the initial phase of the study will be completed by the time the Q3 PRN figures are released, ‘to provide a sound basis for comparison’.

PRN reform

Touching on the need for PRN reform, Hindley stated that Alupro has repeatedly voiced concerns to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency (EA) about the ‘inherent weaknesses’ in the PRN system, and hopes that their talks with the Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP) will ‘consider options to streamline the accreditation process’. He noted, however, that this might not be ‘adequate’ to encourage more reprocessors and exporters to register.

Hindley concluded: “With the EU Circular Economy Package likely to raise recycling targets even further, it is vital that we understand exactly how much aluminium packaging is in the household waste stream, and exactly how much is being recycled. Alupro’s proactive approach demonstrates our commitment to getting this right.”

Find out more about Alupro, Resource Futures, or packaging data.

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