A study into aluminium packaging in 2015 has revealed more than 10,000 tonnes of unreported material, meaning that recycling rates could be higher than reported.
According to packaging waste recovery data released by the Environment Agency, the business recycling rate for all aluminium packaging exceeded its 49% target for 2015, reaching 76,027 tonnes.
But research by the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) found that at least 10,000 tonnes of qualifying used packaging did not go through the PRN system in 2015, meaning it was not recorded.
This means an estimated 86,200 tonnes was collected for recycling.
Alupro’s rates are also based on the methodology outlined in the EU’s circular economy (CE) package proposals, which does not include aluminium content in laminate and composite packaging. This reduces the overall amount of aluminium produced by a few thousand tonnes.
These two factors resulted in Alupro’s estimate of a higher recycling rate for 2015 of 55%, with the rate for drinks cans estimated at 69%.
The study was commissioned by Alupro and undertaken by environmental consultancy Resource Futures.
Alupro executive director Rick Hindley said: “Our research clearly demonstrates the need to encourage more reprocessors to become accredited to ensure that the PRN system provides an accurate record of recycling performance.
“It sets a clear benchmark for our sector, and we will use our findings to focus on what needs to be done to meet the ambitious new material recovery targets proposed under the CE package.”
Hindley said it was important for the UK measurement system of recycling performance to match the methodology outlined in the CE package, already used by most other European countries.