JULY 2009

Can recycling in Western Europe increases

The overall recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans in Western Europe improved in 2007 and stands now at 61.8 percent, an increase of 10 percent compared to the year 2005. This 10 percent increase represents an impressive saving of 300,000 tons of greenhouse gas equivalents.

The total number of aluminum beverage cans consumed in Europe rose from 28.3 (2006) to 32.0 billion units in 2007, resulting in an overall aluminum share of nearly 70 percent in Europe. In Western-Europe consumers use on average 40 aluminum cans per capita. The consumption of aluminum cans in Central and Eastern Europe grew by 2.5 billion units to a total number 12.5 billion cans, an increase of 25 percent compared to the year 2006.

The aluminum beverage can market grew in particular in Northern and Eastern-Europe, while several Western-European countries such as France, Spain, Greece and Germany demonstrated solid growth rates. The total market including Central and Eastern Europe grew by 14 percent to more than 37 billion aluminum cans produced. This also includes exports to non-European countries.

While the Northern-European deposit schemes maintained or even increased their high recycling levels, countries with mixed waste and separate metal packaging waste collection schemes further improved as well due to better collection and innovative sorting and recycling techniques.

Countries such as the Netherlands, which rely heavily on the incineration of unsorted household waste, have invested in aluminum collection from bottom ashes and booked considerable progress.

The European Aluminium Association (EAA) strongly recommends authorities and waste management operators to invest more in the latest available sorting and recycling technologies as pay-back times are relatively short given the high scrap value of well sorted aluminum, even in difficult economic times.

EAA is confident that due to the high scrap value of aluminum, and the environmental advantages of recycling. A can made of recycled aluminum saves up to 95 percent energy compared with cans entirely made of primary aluminum.

End-of-life recycling of used aluminum beverage cans back into new cans or other highly valuable aluminum products, such as bicycles, window frames or engine blocks, helps can makers and beverage producers to lower their carbon footprint.