The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), Washington, has released the “Aluminum Beverage Can Recycling Primer and Roadmap,” which outlines how the aluminum can recycling rate targets announced by CMI members in November 2021 will be met. These target recycling rates are 70% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.
The aluminum beverage can is the most recycled beverage container in the United States with a recycling rate of 45% in 2020, according to the CMI. The US aluminum beverage can industry knows that improving on this leadership position by achieving these goals will not be easy, but would have a significant impact. The CMI reports that if the aluminum can recycling rate was 70% in 2020, an additional 25.6 billion cans would have been recycled, generating more than $400 million in revenue for the U.S. recycling system and resulting in cost savings. of energy that could power more than a million people. American homes for a year.
“This new report clearly shows the opportunity to make progress on our ambitious goals for U.S. aluminum beverage can recycling rates, and the steps CMI members are currently taking in each pillar of action to make progress. in these pillars,” said CMI’s Vice-President of Sustainable Development. Scott Breen. “We encourage stakeholders to read the report, understand how the goals and their associated economic and environmental benefits can be achieved, and join the industry in a collaborative and concerted effort to see more aluminum beverage cans complete their journey. circular, what the vast majority of the time is in a new box.
The CMI has defined four pillars of action to increase the recycling rate of used beverage cans (UBCs), and the report provides additional details on how these goals will be achieved:
- Catalyze the passage and implementation of well-designed filing systems at the state and federal levels.
- Increase and improve in-home and out-of-home recycling.
- Ensure that more cans are properly sorted at recycling centers.
- Increase consumer understanding of the importance of aluminum can recycling and the ability to collect and sell used beverage cans for cash.
The report also provides new data on the potential impact of certain pillars, says the CMI. For example, if the United States had a nationwide deposit system with recycling rates similar to a state like Michigan, where there is a 10-cent deposit, an additional 50 billion UBC would be redeemed through the system. deposit and ultimately recycled. This pillar would have the greatest potential impact and enable the industry to quickly achieve its goals, according to CMI, which is why CMI is pushing aggressively for new, well-designed filing systems.
CMI worked with Reloop and the US public interest group on a list of principles for such a system. They include the use of a single entity to manage the system which must meet performance targets, the application of appropriate setpoints to avoid market distortion and catalyze high recycling rates, the use of non- claimed to improve the recycling system, including all types of beverages and containers with only minimum exemptions allowed, providing easy and convenient redemption, ensuring fees vary by material type based on environmental impacts and product values. market and using technology and clear labeling to reduce fraud and injustice.
CMI says in its report that the aluminum can industry will advocate in key states where a relatively large number of cans are lost to landfills and where there is political support for a deposit-refund scheme, citing the Illinois, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
CMI modeling also reveals that an additional 23 billion aluminum beverage cans could be captured from US households if they all had an automatic cart-based recycling service with strong education. This number was calculated using data from The Recycling Partnership. (CMI was a founding member of what eventually became The Recycling Partnership and continues to support the organization.)
To improve out-of-home recycling, in the report, CMI says it will pilot educating people at the event site about the importance of can recycling. Examples of tactics to be used in the pilot include using transparent iron cages that spell out a word or form a design as they fill up and using containers to vote on a topic by placing a can in a certain place. CMI says it will prioritize funding for this pilot project at a venue that no longer sells drinks in single-use plastic bottles, adding that the tactic is inspired by Every Can Counts, an initiative that started in Europe and has recently expanded to Brazil.
If sorting was improved at materials recovery facilities (MRFs), an estimated 3.5 billion additional aluminum beverage cans could be collected for recycling, according to CMI. The organization published a report in 2020 finding that up to 1 in 4 UBCs are missorted in MRFs. Last year, with financial support from Ardagh Metal Packaging and Crown Holdings and in conjunction with The Recycling Partnership, grants were awarded to five MRFs for can capture equipment that will capture 71 million cans of aluminum drink per year. Ardagh and Crown continue to fund activities through CMI to catalyze additional can capture equipment in MRFs, including testing in MRFs the exact number of missorted cans and developing a return on investment (ROI) calculator ) which has been published online for any MRF to use. no charge to determine the return on investment of the can capture equipment investment in its installation.
CMI members supporting the goals and funding the activities detailed in the roadmap are aluminum can manufacturers Ardagh Metal Packaging, Canpack, Crown Holdings and Envases; and aluminum can sheet suppliers Constellium, Kaiser Aluminium, Novelis and Tri-Arrows Aluminium.