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Mission Circularity: edie LIVE 2019

edie LIVE has wrapped up for another year and we were delighted to attend as a guest speaker on the Circular Economy stage.

Our Chairman Marcel Arsand spoke about Resource Efficiency in front of a packed, standing room only crowd, alongside:

  • Allison Odgen-Newton, CEO Keep Britain Tidy
  • Prof. Paul Ekins OBE, UCL Institute for Sustainable Business
  • Glenn Smith, Sales and marketing director, Wave

If you didn’t get the chance to come along, here are some of Marcel’s key takeaways:

True circularity

Why cans? Well, they’re the champion of recycling.

  • Cans are the most recycled beverage container in the world – it is hard to top that!
  • In the UK the recycling rate is 72% and 74% in Europe
  • Over 90% of aluminium collected in the UK is recycled either in the UK or  Europe
  • All cans are infinitely recyclable, no matter their colour or design
  • Out of 1 billion tonnes of aluminium produced since 1886, 75% is still in use today
  • We are ready for a true circular economy. Are you?

It’s time for a reality check! Let’s take a closer look at the unintended consequences of a DRS

An effective and well-designed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) has to cover a wide range of materials, formats and sizes and the deposit should reflect the value and size of the material. Countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark all have a variable fee. Otherwise, if all packaging is priced the same, like the flat 20p rate recently proposed by Scotland, it has the potential to cause unintended consequences.

A high, fixed deposit price could actually result in an increase in plastic use – not what a DRS is for. Governments, campaigners and consumers are all in agreement that we need to reduce the amount of single use plastic we use every day. Due to the higher initial cost to purchase cans that are primarily sold in multipacks, consumers are likely to choose larger plastic bottles instead. According to ICARO research for Alupro, nearly 25% of beverage can consumers said they would switch to plastic bottles if there was just a 10p fixed charge.

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If we take the 20p proposed deposit as an example, we can see how the cost would be impacted. Is this the best way of improving consumer behaviour? Let’s not forget that cans are not just a great sustainable option, but they also provide a single serve option.

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