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Cans make kerbside collections profitable

Kerbside collections would produce larger tonnages and greater revenue for local authorities if they included drinks cans, according to a Department for Trade and Industry-funded study.

Conducted by Eco Alternatives' Dr. Julia Hummel, the study examined the economic impacts of including metal packaging (steel and aluminium food and drink cans and foil) in multi-material kerbside collections of household recyclables.

Hummel said: "We found there was a net financial benefit through the revenue generated by the metals. There was also the benefit that in some refuse vehicles the cans took up less space than other recyclables."

Corus Steel Packaging Recycling was one of the organisations behind the study and manager John May said: "Given the fact that there are ready markets for the metals, there is every reason to collect them."

However, in relation to volume, metal packaging is lighter than the traditional materials collected at kerbsides such as paper, glass and organics.

Given that local authorities have tonnage-based targets, metal recyclers like Corus could have a tough time persuading local authorities to include cans in collections.

Hummel argued that even though the size of a kerbside box stayed the same, adding cans would not mean that residents would sacrifice the heavier materials.

She added: "There is anecdotal evidence that if you add a material, you actually receive more of every other material in your collection."

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