Aluminium Drink Cans Recycling Hits Record High in Ireland

The official recycling rate for aluminium drink cans consumed in Ireland has jumped from 54% in 2016 to 73% in 2017.

Today Repak, Ireland’s only government-approved packaging recycling scheme announced that more than 7 out of 10 aluminium drink cans sold and consumed in Ireland in 2017 were collected for recycling. The 7,297 tonnes collected for recycling last year is the highest rate of aluminium can recycling since Repak began recording data in 2006.

The data, provided to Repak by both its members and registered packaging collectors and recyclers, shows that overall tonnage of aluminium packaging collected for recycling in 2017 has grown by over 50% compared to 2016 (4,728 tonnes to 7,297 tonnes).

The news comes as Alupro Ireland, the not-for-profit company who develop and run the programme Every Can Counts, received a finalist nomination at the prestigious Pakman Awards, a national recycling awards powered by Repak. The awards will be held in the Intercontinental Hotel on October 25th, with Alupro Ireland nominated in the Environmental Education and Awareness Initiative category.

Last year saw the relaunch of the Every Can Counts’ drinks can recycling programme in Ireland. The programme, managed by Alupro Ireland and funded by the aluminium suppliers, drinks can manufacturers and Repak, enables people to recycle drink cans when outside the home. The programme is currently working in partnership with Ireland’s major music festivals to encourage festival goers to recycle the high volume of cans consumed at the events.

Every Can Counts is a unique partnership between the can makers and the recycling industry.  They have come together to establish a successful ‘on the go’ recycling programme across Ireland.  Every Can Counts has increased can recycling points across the country in sports clubs, tourist attractions, hospitals, universities, and organisations of all kinds.  The programme went on tour this summer and was found at all the major festivals rewarding positive recycling behaviour, providing additional can recycling facilities, and passing on a message that lives long beyond any festival.

Every Can Count’s presence at festivals and events led to the collection of over 57700 cans last year.

Commenting on the recycling rates and nomination, Repak’s CEO, Seamus Clancy, said “It is fantastic to see aluminium drink can recycling rates taking such a significant jump in just one year – and the highest level on record. The challenge is to help consumers to recognise aluminium packaging as an extremely cost-effective material to recycle, through education and effective communications, and Alupro Ireland’s nomination for a Pakman Awards demonstrates the effectiveness of its campaigns and highlights the excellent results that have helped increase Ireland’s aluminium recycling rates.”

The most significant factor contributing to this impressive increase is the inclusion, for the first time, of the aluminium drink cans recovered from the incinerator bottom ash (IBA) derived largely from the new Poolbeg Waste to Energy Facility which opened last year.  Recycling aluminium, compared to producing it from primary material, saves 95% of the energy and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 97%.   The valuable aluminium cans recovered from the IBA are then recycled into new aluminium products.

The Repak data also reveals more good news – kerbside collections of used aluminium packaging grew by 6% and collections through bring banks grew by 2%.

Maarten Labberton, Chairman of Alupro Ireland commented “This is excellent news, and we will always prioritise the separate collection of clean aluminium packaging from households and on-the-go. However, if aluminium packaging makes its way into household rubbish, almost uniquely it can now be recovered and recycled into new high value products.”

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