According to Packaging Digest (11/18/2008) the Aluminum Association has announced an industry-wide effort to increase the industry’s recycling rate for used aluminum beverage containers to 75 per cent by 2015. Currently, the aluminum industry recovers approximately 54 per cent of the aluminum containers produced in the U.S.
While the association says aluminum cans are already the most widely recycled beverage container in the country, it admits that each year Americans still discard over 50 billion aluminum cans which end up in landfills.
In its news release, the Aluminum Association states that recycling plays a critical role in maintaining the aluminum can as an environmentally sustainable package. Every can that is recovered is turned back into a new beverage can, saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the use of natural resources. The association recognizes that “Container deposit programs are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage cans for recycling.”
Raising the recycling rate of aluminum cans to 75 per cent would:
— Result in an energy savings of 139.7 million MBTUs in avoided energy.
— Result in the avoidance of nearly 9 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is equivalent to removing more than 1.6 million cars from the road over a year.
Martha Finn Brooks, President and Chief Operating Officer of Novelis Inc., described the recycling goal as, “a vital leadership initiative for the aluminum industry.”
“It is time,” said Brooks, “that we aggressively advance a multi-tiered approach and work with other stakeholders to achieve higher recycling rates. This metal is too valuable, from both an economic and environmental point of view, not to recover.”
To achieve the recycling target, the Aluminum Association will work in partnership with other stakeholders to increase public education, grow the recycling infrastructure, and explore new policy initiatives. The association will encourage and assist local and state governments to consider a range of options, including:
1. Growing and strengthening voluntary recycling programs, such as curbside recycling initiatives. The aluminum industry’s Curbside Value Partnership will continue to be a valuable support mechanism for such programs.
2. Considering deposit legislation as an option for all beverage containers. Container deposit programs are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage cans for recycling. States that have deposit programs have the highest can recycling rates, on average at 74 per cent or higher, while the recycling rate in non-deposit states is around 38 per cent.
3. Exploring the role that mandatory recycling programs and landfill bans can play as part of the solution.
4. Recognizing the benefits of recycling in any potential climate change policies.
Pat Franc, President of Arco Aluminum and past chairman of the Aluminum Association, touted the new recycling goal as being good for the environment, consumers and the aluminum industry.
“Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and the more aluminum that consumers recycle, the better it is for everyone,” said Franc. “Educating the consumer about the economic and environmental benefits of aluminum can recycling is key to getting them to recycle more.”
The U.S. aluminum industry’s recycling rate peaked at 68 per cent in 1992, but in the following years declined to as low as 50 per cent. More recently the recycling rate has been gradually increasing again, growing by 2.2 percentage points in 2007.
“Alcoa announced this as a company goal and target date in January, and we’re pleased that the Association is united behind the goal,” said Kevin Anton, vice president of Alcoa, President of Alcoa Materials Management and Chairman of the Aluminum Association. “The infinitely recyclable can is synonymous with recycling. We must work to recover the remaining 46 per cent of cans which still could be recycled. Joining forces as an industry to support this initiative is the first step to reaching this important goal.”
Source: The Aluminum Association
Dennis Sabourin, Executive Director
National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)
PO Box 1327
Sonoma, CA 95476
Tel: 707-996-4207 x13