Low Weight, but High Value – aluminium punches above its weight in the waste stream
Aluminium is a valuable material that consistently holds its own in the markets.
It commands the greatest value per weight of any material collected at kerbside and was singled out in the Coalition Government’s latest Waste Review as a priority material for recycling, due to the high carbon savings when recycled, compared to manufacturing virgin metal.
The Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly Government are also both considering policies that will prioritise aluminium, recognising the intrinsic value of keeping material in the recycling system from both a financial and environmental perspective.
In 2010, 154,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging – primarily drinks cans, aluminium foil and aerosols – was placed on the market.
When collected for recycling this material would be worth in excess of £60 million to collectors. And it’s a growing market – sales of goods packaged using aluminium have increased, and aluminium’s share of the beverage can market is now over 80%.
Improvements in sorting and handling technology make it easier to separate aluminium from other materials and achieve good prices for quality material. As a result, the recycling of smaller fractions of the aluminium stream, including foil trays and aerosols, has become much less challenging and collectors are taking advantage of developments – offering local authorities the opportunity to expand the range of materials collected from householders, boosting recycling performance and generating valuable revenue.
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