Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, has launched the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative, which it says “will help increase the awareness and uptake of aerosol recycling among the public and drive increased recycling rates across the UK”.
The initiative brings together working group partners from across the value chain including Ball Aerosol Packaging, the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA), Ecosurety, a packaging compliance scheme, The Materials Processing Institute, Suez Recycling and Recovery UK and Tandom Metallurgical Group Ltd, processors of reclaimed aluminium. The project aims to ensure metal aerosol recyclability and viability in a post-extended producer responsibility (EPR) and post-deposit return scheme (DRS) landscape. Metal recycles forever, so the steel or aluminium in metal aerosols can be recycled endlessly, without any loss of quality.
The cross-industry initiative will follow a three-phase approach to educate consumers around best practice recycling, to establish a baseline recycling rate and roadmap for achieving higher future rates for aerosol recycling in the UK, as well as seeking to secure substantial long-term investment into recycling infrastructure. The programme will help ensure that aerosols become a central part of recycling behaviour.
Earlier this year, Alupro, in collaboration with independent environmental consultancy Resource Futures, undertook sampling work to establish knowledge of where a baseline recycling rate for aerosols in the UK lies. The results showed that, despite 95% of councils offering aerosol recycling at kerbside, only 46% of aerosols are correctly separated for recycling by consumers.
‘The Lonely Aerosol’, a consumer engagement campaign, was also launched at the start of the year to encourage consumers to recycle empty aerosol cans. The pilot campaign reached a high volume of consumers, with almost one million people seeing the animations at least twice.
Looking forward, the project will create a roadmap in order to form a strategic approach towards achieving higher aerosol recycling rates in the UK, including the development of new consumer resources.
Predrag Ozmo, head of sustainability at Ball Aerosol Packaging, commented: “We’re proud to have joined the UK Aerosols Recycling Initiative in partnership with Alupro. The programme will provide a unique platform from which consumer behavioural change and infrastructure improvements can be made.
“The project is pivotal in driving further improvements in recycling, addressing both consumer knowledge and the role of government and industry bodies. As a society, we have woken up to the fact that the old linear economic model is no longer working. The urgency and benefits of moving toward a circular economy are clear.
“True circularity involves the continuous recovery and reuse of materials, with nothing lost during the full circle. It is not enough for products to be recyclable – they need to be physically recycled in the real world.”
Robbie Staniforth, innovation and policy director at Ecosurety, said: “We’re pleased to be involved in this cross-industry initiative. It is vital that we build upon the success of aluminium recycling in general by focusing on specific packaging formats.
“Many of the barriers preventing aerosols being recycled are well-known, what is less clear is how those barriers can be removed. This initiative will pave the way for achieving much higher recycling rates for aluminium packaging in future.”
Tom Giddings, executive director of Alupro, added: “Consistently, aerosols top WRAP’s annual list of confusing consumer packaging types in regard to recycling. As an industry, our goal is to exceed a 50% aerosol recycling rate by 2030, making this initiative critical.
“This initiative will see us work closely with our partners to improve consumer behaviour and aerosol recycling infrastructure in the UK. These changes to the metal packaging industry will contribute not only towards a wider sustainable future but also allow us to take an important step towards a 100% metal packaging recycling rate.
This is just the start of this project; we have big plans for the future and we’re actively welcoming new partners who have an interest in maximising the recycling rate of aerosols.”
For more information about Alupro, visit www.alupro.org.uk.