Aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled drinks package in the world, according to a new analysis by Resource Recycling Systems (RRS).
Commissioned by the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME) and Abralatas in Brazil, the study used global recycling data to calculate and validate the global recyclability rates for aluminum, PET and glass beverage containers. The study established a global weighted average recycling rate for aluminum at 69 percent, compared to PET at 43 percent and glass at 46 percent.
The study prioritized markets with accessible recycling data and then verified and validated the data for 82 percent of the aluminum can global market (representing 21 countries), 79 percent of the PET bottle global market (representing 23 countries), and 79 percent of the glass bottle global market (representing 22 countries). The study identified aluminum recycling rates at 98 percent in Brazil, 79 percent in Poland, 77 percent in Japan, 72 percent in Italy and 55 percent in the United States.
Speaking on the results of the study, RRS Vice President Anne Johnson said, "Data on beverage container recycling rates for 25 countries, representing 80 percent of the global market, were reviewed and validated by the RRS Data Analytics Team. Even with factoring in the data reliability for each container type by comparing high and low error ranges, RRS determined that aluminum beverage containers remain the most recycled container globally. A key finding of the RRS data review is that much could be done to improve the reporting of recycling data in most markets, through more harmonized definitions of recycling and reporting methods."
“Aluminum beverage cans are, by far, the leader of beverage container recycling in the United States,” says CMI President Robert Budway. “Although we have always felt confident about making a global claim, we wanted third-party certification. We hope that beverage companies and consumers around the globe will recognize the importance of continuing to recycle this valuable material.”
Gordon Shade, CEO of Metal Packaging Europe, the association created through the merger of BCME and Empac, said, “This is a welcome confirmation of the aluminium can's premium status in recycling. It is especially good news for consumers as, through their conscientious and responsible behaviour, they ensure the preservation of the material for future use.”
Renault Castro, CEO of Abralatas in Brazil, noted, “It comes as no surprise that this important study confirms this outstanding feature of the can, certifying that our packaging has a true competitive and environmental advantage over our competitors. In times of global warming this is a huge benefit to society.”
Aluminum is recycled again and again. In fact, nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today, which is a testament to its characteristic as a permanent material and its legacy as a commodity that is actually recycled into new products. While this report is extremely encouraging, there remains work to further consolidate our leadership position and enhance our environmental credentials. This includes being fully recognized by consumers as the model for real recycling.