Aluminium packaging recycling reaches record levels
According to data released by the Environment Agency earlier this week (22 July), a record 40,653 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling in Q2 2020. This indicates that 76,933 tonnes were collected for recycling in the first half of the year - a significant increase of 52 per cent compared to the same period in 2019 (50,744).
Aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring sites and on-the-go systems increased by 37 per cent during the first half of the year (53,312 in 2020, compared to 38,882 in 2019), while tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA) nearly doubled (23,621 in 2020, compared to 11,862 in 2019).
Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, commented: "The UK's PRN data for Q2 2020 shows a hugely impressive year-on-year increase in the volume of aluminium packaging collected for recycling. Alongside greater public awareness about the benefits of recycling, figures should be attributed to the COVID-19 lockdown and the resulting increase in household recycling volumes.
"Perhaps the most surprising statistic was the hike in aluminium packaging recovered from IBA, which rose by an astonishing 99 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. This, to some extent, can be accounted to an increase in the number of IBA processors accredited for reprocessing, as well as an increasing number of energy from waste (EfW) facilities coming on-stream nationwide. However, we are currently awaiting further verification of this data.
"With PRNs already raised for more than 76,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging in 2020, the future looks bright. While nothing is certain in this current climate, we are optimistic that, providing local authority collections continue to operate as normal, recycling rates will continue to rise and we will once again surpass annual targets.
"In fact, with 68 per cent of this year's obligation already achieved, it could be possible to realise recycling rates close to 80 per cent for all aluminium packaging and 90 per cent for aluminium beverage cans! Of course, this relies heavily on sustaining current rates throughout the rest of the year, PRN values remaining stable and no future disruptions to local authority collections."
Last year, figures from European Aluminium and Metal Packing Europe saw the overall recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland rise to an all-time record of 74.5 per cent in 2017.
The UK’s aluminium recycling rate has made significant gains in recent years, with the figure making a huge leap to 75 per cent in 2018, from 54 per cent in 2010. A report from the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation predicts that this figure will continue to rise, potentially rising to 85 per cent this year.