New waste treatment technologies provide a significant opportunity to recover aluminium packaging for recycling
Despite the success of industry’s programme to recover valuable aluminium packaging prior to the waste stream, significant volumes will always end up as mixed domestic and commercial waste.
Historically this would almost certainly have ended up in a landfill site.
In countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark aluminium mixed with other waste is not lost; it is recovered either from incinerator bottom ash or extracted in a waste treatment process such as mechanical biological treatment.
With the escalating cost of landfill in the UK, and the Government’s desire to move to a zero waste society, waste management companies are starting to invest in new treatment technologies. There is no doubt that these plants provide a significant opportunity to recover aluminium packaging.
Alupro is working with industry experts from across Europe to fully explore the recovery opportunities and to develop an understanding of best practice.
Based on estimates derived from experience in other countries we believe that around 6000 tonnes of aluminium packaging is already being recovered from aluminium bottom ash in the UK, but probably not being counted as part of the official recycling rate derived from PRN figures. Our research has shown that taking account of treatment plants that are already operational, or currently under construction by the end of 2012 there will be around 10,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging available for recovery from mixed domestic waste.
Alupro has agreed to work with DEFRA to develop a protocol to ensure that all aluminium recovered from mixed domestic waste is counted towards the official recycling percentages.