Calls from an MP to introduce a minimum recyclable content obligation for packaging have been criticised by aluminium industry representatives. At a meeting of the industrys All Party Parliamentary Group, members said the 10 minute (recyclate content) Bill, introduced in February, would be counter-productive for drinks cans.
Members argued that an end-of-life aluminium recycling rate is a better measure of environmental sustainability than recycled content because the metal is traded globally.
Packaging organisation Alupro executive director Rick Hindley said more scrap metal was produced in the UK than could be used in domestic manufacture. So it made sense to export clean metal for recycling and use abroad.
The European pool of scrap aluminium will be used in the most optimal end product, Hindley said.
Sometimes this will be closed loop like the beverage cans recycled by Novelis at Warrington, but more often than not it will be recycled in an open loop in one of 133 recycling plants across Europe.
By increasing the recycled content of one product we are simply moving metal around. It does not necessarily mean that we will be replacing primary aluminium. Increasing the recycling rate does!"
Hindley said independent research done on behalf of the Beverage Canmakers Europe found that the most effective way of reducing a cans carbon footprint is to increase recycling. The research revealed that increasing the recycling rate for drinks cans in the UK from 50 per cent to 70 per cent would reduce the carbon footprint of the 6.5 billion aluminium cans sold in the UK by about 150,000 tonnes.
The ten minute (recyclate content) Bill was introduced on 25 February by Southampton Test MP Alan Whitehead.