European aluminum beverage can recycling rate reaches 64 percent

The overall recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans in the European 27 including EFTA countries and Turkey increased by 1.2 percent to 64.3 percent in 2009. Despite the difficult economic situation the consumption of aluminum beverage cans in wider Europe remained at 34 billion units – it was possible to collect and recycle a further 400 million in addition to the 21 billion cans already recycled.

Traditionally beverage can recycling rates differ a lot from country to country. Most of the Nordic European countries have well-balanced deposit systems in place which generate stable and high recycling rates of around 90 percent.

Countries such as Belgium with well-managed pre-sorted packaging collection schemes also book excellent results. However, some of these schemes need further improvement and should focus on a better sorting quality and include the collection of cans which are consumed out-of-home.

Successful local programs such as the UK Every Can Counts initiative can further help and are now being replicated in other countries. France and Austria joined with their own versions, called Chaque Canette Compte in French, and Jede Dose Zaehlt in German. The main purpose of these programs is to stimulate consumers at their workplace or while enjoying other outdoor activities such as a festival or a sport event to collect and deposit their cans in designated bins.

In general it is strongly recommended that EU Member States further improve their reporting of the recycled quantities of metal packaging, for example by including the quantities which are collected outside regular schemes. Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe have collection schemes run by the private sector, using the high scrap value of aluminum as the main driver while an increasing number of countries also collect metals from the bottom ashes of the household waste incinerators. These fractions should be taken into account.

Based on the overall positive recycling trend over the past 20 years the aluminum industry together with the can manufacturers are aiming at an average European recycling rate of 75 percent in 2015 for all beverage cans and together with its partners in the Metal Packaging Europe (MPE) platform – an overall recycling rate for all metal packaging of 80 percent in 2020.