When considering the collection of cans in the remaining European countries and Turkey, the result is that the metal of more than 27.5 billion cans remains in the European circular economy and is available again for the production of new aluminium products. The collected cans represent a total amount of 390,000 tons of recycled aluminium, preventing more than 3.12 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, these collected cans represent a total amount of 390,000 tons of recycled aluminium, avoiding more than 3.12 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), i.e. the average yearly emission of about 340.000 EU citizens, equivalent to the entire population of cities like Florence, Cardiff or Alicante. Each tonne of recycled aluminium saves up to 95% of the energy used or the GHG emitted to produce the same amount of primary aluminium.
The European Aluminium Association (EAA) considers this 70% result an important milestone in its path towards its voluntary recycling targets for used beverage cans set for the reporting years 2015 (75%) and in 2020 (80%). However, Maarten Labberton, director of the EAA Packaging Group cautions:
“These ambitious targets can only be met if significant improvements are made to the existing metal packaging and can specific collection and sorting schemes. The European regulatory framework should also become more transparent and harmonised. Therefore, we urge the EU authorities to present a revised EU Circular Economy Package with ambitious but more realistic and ‘real’ recycling targets.”
EAA strongly recommends that extra investments should be made in the recycling infrastructures of the EU Member States, as this clearly contributes to the European circular economy. Valuable material sources such as used beverage cans and other aluminium packaging items can be recycled endlessly for the production of new cans and other products such as bicycles, engine blocks and building parts. The European cohesion funds can help in particular those Member States which are facing today below average recovery results. Maarten Labberton comments:
“These funds should be used in a more ‘intelligent’ way and respect the waste management hierarchy, with a strong focus on innovative collection and sorting solutions for recycling. Landfilling of recyclable packaging waste should be phased out and for the remaining unsorted household waste fraction, incineration with energy recovery should be kept as a ‘second best’ solution, including metal recovery from the bottom ashes.”