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Industry drivers: how Alupro is boosting metal recycling

As record numbers join forces with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation to boost metal recycling rates, an education initiative is poised to challenge students to realise the potential of aluminium. By Rick Hindley, Alupro executive director.

The Aluminium Packaging and Recycling Organisation (Alupro) has launched new resources to support local authority recycling communications programmes and promote the sustainability credentials of aluminium to the next generation.

A free teaching resource, the Alu D&T Challenge, is now available aimed at primary and secondary schools to promote the importance of sustainable design, and encourage pupils to appreciate the importance of designing for recyclability. As part of the challenge, students can enter their design concepts in a national competition and win prizes for themselves and their school (see www.aludtchallenge.co.uk).

Alupro has also added resources to its online suite of communi-cations materials to help councils promote aluminium packaging recycling to householders. The templates include adverts to encourage recycling of foil, as well as updated editorial content suitable for press releases, feature articles and web content.

The initiatives complement other successful Alupro-managed programmes such as Every Can Counts and MetalMatters (see box), which are currently helping more than 800 councils and businesses to recycle more metal packaging than ever before.

The new materials reflect our industry’s commitment to continued investment in promoting recycling and delivering behaviour change. We hope the Alu D&T Challenge will raise students’ awareness of the value of aluminium and the importance of sustainable design, and so embed behavioural change from an early age.

Alupro’s partnership with the Aluminium Federation (ALFED) and the Design and Technology Association (DATA) to deliver the new education resource follows a period of activity and investment by the metal packaging industry to boost recycling participation and capture rates for aluminium and other metal packaging.

The organisation has also expanded its membership to include the major producers of household foil and several major brands such as Coca-Cola and Nespresso.

The record recycling rates for aluminium packaging and drinks cans in 2011 reflects a steadily increasing awareness of the economic value of recycling aluminium packaging, as well as the contribution it can make to the viability of a recycling programme.

Industry-funded programmes have increased aluminium capture rates and are continuing to deliver a real shift in consumer behaviour.

Alongside programmes like MetalMatters and Every Can Counts, the Alu D&T Challenge will play a fundamental role in bringing about long-term behavioural change to deliver a sustainable future in which we maximise recycling rates.

Yet as recycling rates continue to rise, it is essential that industry targets remain challenging. If future targets are set at or below current recycling levels, there is a risk of damaging the Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) and Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERN) system.

The confirmation of targets that will come into effect from 2013 - an increase of 3% for aluminium and 1% for steel - was a welcome step in the right direction.

It is essential that these targets are reviewed regularly if they are to remain challenging. A further consultation on the system is expected in 2013 with new legislation possible in 2014.

Whatever the outcome of forthcoming consultations, we know from experience that it is industry-led programmes like Every Can Counts and MetalMatters that have been most significant in helping local authorities maximise the economic and environmental recycling benefits of recycling.

To find out more, visit www.alupro.org.uk

Industry-led programmes run by alupro

Every Can Counts

Now in its fourth year, Every Can Counts is managed by Alupro on behalf of its funding partners. More than 770 companies are currently involved in the programme, recycling cans collected from 2,060 sites.

With branded collection points cross the country, Every Can Counts is making a real difference in encouraging people to recycle away from home.

In 2011, the scheme helped people to recycle more than 51 million drinks cans while ‘on the go’, saving nearly 6,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

For 2012, Every Can Counts continues to target facilities managers in the workplace as well and festival-goers, students and people tanning on the beach.

To find out more visit: www.everycancounts.co.uk

MetalMatters

Following the success of a WRAP trial programme, Alupro took over the management of MetalMatters in 2012. Eleven local authorities in Northern Ireland’s arc21 waste management partnership were the first to take up MetalMatters in February, targeting more than 400,000 households.

MetalMatters is being rolled out in other areas throughout the rest of the year and, by the end of 2012, Alupro will be working with 27 council to increase metal packaging recycling.

To find out more visit: www.metalmatters.org.uk

Aerofoil

The Aerofoil programme was developed by Alupro after research carried out in 2010 revealed that householders wanted to recycle aerosols and foil but were unsure if they could do so locally.

By May 2011, 66% of councils had expanded their kerbside collections to include foil containers. As a result, foil became classified as ‘widely recycled’ under the British Retail Consortium’s On Pack Recycling Label scheme.

By the end of the two-year programme, 98 local authorities had added either foil, aerosols or both materials to their kerbside schemes, and more than 5.8 million households were benefiting from expanded collection services.

The success of Aerofoil hinged on communicating with councils and waste management companies, illustrating that foil and aerosols were not ‘difficult’ to recycle, and providing practical support to communicate with residents as collection services changed.

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