Record year for aluminium packaging recycling in the UK

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The UK’s aluminium packaging recycling rate was a record 68 % in 2021, with more than 156,000 t collected for recycling (a 3 % rise year-on-year).

According to annual data published by the Environment Agency, more than four in five beverage cans were recycled last year (82 %) – matching the previous record set in 2020.

Despite a growing domestic market, aluminium packaging collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems increased by 5 % (112,210 t), while tonnage recovered from incinerator bottom ash grew by 2 % (41,941 t). More than 88 % of this total volume was recycled within the UK and EU, with just 12 % being exported for reprocessing further afield.

“Recycling rates kept pace”

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, commented: “It’s pleasing news indeed to report yet another record-breaking year for aluminium packaging recycling. While the total UK market size grew, recycling rates kept pace. More importantly still, the vast majority of material was collected through kerbside, bring and on-the-go systems, which maximized the potential for closed-loop recycling.”

“We hope to see record rates continuing in Q1 2022”

“Looking forward to the first quarter of 2022, we hope to see record rates continuing, reflecting the positive trends of 2021,” Giddings continued. “With higher, more ambitious national targets, we’re pleased to be moving ever-closer towards a 100% recycling rate for aluminium packaging. As we do so, communication will prove ever-more pivotal in maintaining consumer engagement and maximizing positive recycling behaviours. This is a key point included within our Aluminium Manifesto, which was released in March and calls for fundamental change in the UK’s approach to packaging and waste management.” 

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