Co-op has launched a campaign that aims to avoid the sending-to-landfill of a great many tonnes of aluminium foil this Christmas.
The supermarket chain said its research has revealed that more than one in five* (22%) UK adults do not recycle household aluminium and it is estimated that over 3,000 tonnes could end up in landfill this Xmas**.
Brits are expected to consume 378 million mince pies^ over the festive period, with around 378 tonnes of aluminium packaging used to bake and package the festive favourite. And almost a quarter of the aluminium packaging will not be recycled correctly. This is because shoppers unwittingly dispose of foil and aluminium products in general household waste when it can be recycled. However, the Co-op has found that one in five local authorities do not accept aluminium foil in their recycling schemes yet 81 per cent of consumers said they would recycle aluminium if they could.
Each year it is estimated that an average household uses 144metres of kitchen wrapping foil (15,000 tonnes) and 182 foil containers (20,000 tonnes). Unfortunately, a fifth of this is unnecessarily going to landfill.
Co-op and Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) are urging all UK local authorities to accept the material along with food cans and glass bottle collections.
Currently 18 per cent^^ of local authorities do not accept aluminium foil, yet all of the councils have an aluminium food can and glass bottle collection in place. The process to collect aluminium foil is the same as these other materials at kerbside collection and if the foil has been rinsed out (just as we do with metal food cans), the packaging can be recycled.
Michael Fletcher, Chief Commercial Officer at Co-op said: “How we do business really matters. The world is experiencing a climate crisis and we need to work together to avoid it. Accelerating action is the only way to mitigate and reduce impacts on our natural world, and to ensure stable food supply chains in the future.
“We are committed in helping our members and customers to make environmentally friendly choices and reducing the environmental impact of products is and always has been at the core of Co-op. That’s why we are writing to local authorities to encourage them to collect such simple items as part of collections they already have in place.”
Recycling one tonne of aluminium saves nine tonnes of C02 emissions. Aluminium can be endlessly recycled, without losing quality and takes as little as eight weeks to be recycled and be back on the supermarket shelf. What’s more, recycling aluminium saves up to 95 per cent of the energy it takes to make both aluminium from raw materials meaning it’s much more energy efficient than producing from virgin materials.
Rick Hindley, Executive Director of Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) says “We are delighted that Co-op is shining a light on the importance of recycling this valuable material. So many festive food products are packaged in aluminium, and it is unthinkable that some of it may end up in the rubbish bin when it can be collected in kerbside recycling. Aluminium is endlessly recyclable with no loss of quality, and most importantly, aluminium packaging placed in a recycling bin is always recycled because it is such a valuable material financially – it is real recycling in action.”
*A survey conducted on behalf of Co-op in December 2019 of 2,000 respondents
**35,000 tonnes on average each month / 12 = 2,916
Mince pies = 1m mince pie cases = 1 tonne of aluminium = 378 tonnes
Kitchen foil wrap = 1,250 per month
Foil containers = 1,666 per month
^c63m packs of mince pies (Kantar 20 we 30th Dec-18). 6 mince pies per pack = 378m
^^Of the 408 councils in England, Scotland, Wales and NI, 391 already collect cans, of which 69 of them don’t collect foil – 18% of the councils who collect cans don’t collect foil wrap and pack. Full list available on request