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Aluminium drinks cans are most recycled drinks container in the world

Aluminium beverage cans have now been certified as the world's most recycled drinks container, according to independent research by Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) announced at the recent Smithers Pira Sustainability in Packaging Europe Conference in Barcelona. Seven out of 10 drinks cans sold in the UK are recycled and 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today.

Metal, particularly aluminium, has long been a leader in recycling because it is a permanently available material that can be recycled again and again, without losing any quality of its structural integrity. But it’s not just aluminium – steel for packaging recorded an average European recycling rate of 78% in 2015, a record performance, which included five countries exceeding 85%. With greater focus being placed on packaging, consumers are now more concerned about waste produced and want to be informed of the most up to date recycling statistics.

Martin Constable, Chairman of the Can Makers, says, “The news that aluminium cans are now confirmed as the most recycled drinks packaging in the world is great news for environmentally concerned consumers. The can is the ideal packaging of choice for brands to meet their own sustainability targets as well as meet customer demand for ‘greener’ packaging.”

Whilst these numbers are encouraging, there remains much to do to reach the 2020 metal packaging industry ambition of an 80% European average rate. Metal packaging must be fully recognised in the consumers’ eyes as the model for real recycling. To reach this objective, consumer engagement campaigns, like EveryCanCounts and MetalMatters, are crucial.

It’s not just down to conscientious consumers however, there is a need for the right legislative framework to create a functioning Circular Economy. It is inherent in a circular economy that it starts and ends with a new product that can be recycled again and again. Recycling rates are a good indicator of whether or not recyclates are used for new applications. Packaging and packaging waste policies should be based on sound life-cycle assessments. In a Circular Economy this means the focus should be on multiple-life-cycles.

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