Between July 2003 and June 2004, 56.3 tonnes of cans were collected for recycling compared to 54 tonnes for the same period from July 2002 to June 2003. Metal cans represent 8% of Leicestershire's household waste stream and, if recycled, contribute towards both their Statutory and Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets.
The countywide initiative saw Leicestershire, Blaby, Charnwood, Oadby and Wigston and North West Leicestershire District Councils involved with the project.
The project progressed in conjunction with a scheme run by Alupro, the Aluminium Packaging Recycling organisation, following the launch in the East Midlands of its Great Aluminium Recycling Push.
Alupro is responsible for encouraging and developing recycling collection initiatives, consumer education and representing the aluminium packaging industry to Government.
The Alupro initiative in the East Midlands was part of a national programme aiming to plant over 35,000 trees across the UK during a twelve-month period by encouraging the public to recycle more of their domestic waste.
For every tonne of aluminium, can or foil recycled in Leicestershire between July 2003 and June 2004 the organisation pledged to donate a tree with the incentive that some would be planted locally, while others would be donated to the Woodland Trust planting programme, which aims to increase native woodland coverage.
In Leicestershire the aluminium is obtained along with other household recycled waste through established alternate-weekly kerbside collection schemes operated by the district and borough councils, as well as from existing can banks at recycling and household waste sites across the county. The waste is then delivered to one of Leicestershire's several material recycling facilities and segregated for sorting and baling.
Aluminium and steel cans are separated prior to sorting. The steel ones are baled into large batches each containing 9,000 cans and sent on a reprocessor. The aluminium cans are packed into smaller bales of 600 and sent to a large recycling plant in Birmingham where they are melted down and recycled to make more cans.
For every tonne of aluminium cans or foil thrown away and not recycled, four tonnes of virgin materials and 17,000 kWh of electricity are required to produce it again. Making a can from recycled aluminium saves 75% of the energy required in making it from raw materials, therefore helping to limit environmental degradation.
Leicestershire has a PSA to increase the recycling and composting of household waste with the aluminium target one of 12 agreed, so the county council is working in close partnership with the district councils to achieve this. If the PSA targets are successfully met, the county will receive a performance reward grant, of which a percentage will be passed on to the district councils involved.
On average each person in the UK uses 120 aluminium cans per year and so the county council is keen to achieve more public support and is proactive in attempting to increase the overall amount of household recycling within Leicestershire.
A dedicated team is deployed on a number of waste awareness campaigns, which aim to educate residents from infant and primary school children to those who may need to readjust their habits to the recycling culture. The issue is also frequently promoted at special road show events.