There has been a huge drive in recent years to reduce single use plastic, not surprisingly when The National Geographic states that 91% of plastic is currently not recycled and shockingly 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Most people are aware that aluminium cans are a more sustainable option, but they are not sure why. The below details why aluminium is a better and more sustainable option and the reasons why it is so readily recycled.
Most materials degrade each time they are recycled, until they end up in landfill. However, aluminium does not. It keeps its quality every time it is recycled. Not once, not twice, but forever.
Recyclable packaging does not always get recycled. From complications caused by colour to lack of infrastructure and demand, many recyclables are not actually recycled, unlike cans. Aluminium recycling uses infrastructure that already exists. Aluminium retains its value because it does not lose quality when it is recycled, making it economically viable and a desirable material to recycle.
Recycled aluminium uses 95% less energy than primary production. Primary aluminium is carbon intensive but once produced and in the recycling loop it lasts forever. As recycling rates increase, aluminium cans become less carbon intensive than other materials. Within Europe it is already at 74.5%.
All cans are equally recyclable. All aluminium cans are recyclable regardless of colour, format or design. Inks and coatings are extracted and used as energy during the recycling process. This is in contrast to other packaging where mixed materials, colorants, lids and labels compromise its recyclability. Regardless of its finish, cans can be recycled over and over with no loss of quality.
The can is the world’s most recycled beverage container. Aluminium can recycling has high yields with minimal material losses (around 2%) compared to other materials that can lose between 20 and 30%. Currently at 69% globally; a near 100% real recycling rate is possible, something that other materials will find difficult.
This is due to its product design. It is a homogenous material which is easy and inexpensive to sort. The ring-pull is integrated and is not a contaminant. It is fully recyclable despite of colours and format, meaning that Metal recycles forever, not just a few times.
These factors all mean that the used drink can that has just been thrown into your recycling bin can be back on the shelf in just 60 days!