When recycling of aluminium closures is considered the advantages continue to stack up, as they are recyclable, without any loss of quality. In addition recycling of aluminium needs about 95% less energy compared with its primary production, with the corresponding savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Due to the high scrap value of aluminium a considerable part, if not all of its collection and sorting cost, can be offset. Depending on the system, collection and recycling of aluminium is `good business’.
To understand the environmental performance of aluminium closures it is important to calculate the end-of-life recycling rate. Aluminium closure recycling in Europe is estimated to be around 45% or even above.
This recycling level will further improve as the industry continues to promote recycling towards local authorities and the waste management sector and demonstrates via its national projects and initiatives that collection, sorting and recycling of even small items, such as closures, can be improved. Depending on the national collection and recycling schemes in Europe, aluminium closures are collected either in mixed packaging fractions or together with glass packaging. In some countries (e.g. Germany) the collection and recycling rates are above 85%.
Aluminium closures collected together with glass packaging (e.g. bottles, jars, etc.) are completely separated from the glass fraction during the glass recycling process. This is due to the production requirements in glass recycling as well as for economic reasons. Subsequently the separated aluminium closures go into the aluminium material recycling for re-melting to be used again for other valuable aluminium product.
(Source: FEVER, the European Federation of Glass Recycler)