The UK recycled 52 per cent of its aluminium beverage cans in 2007, according to new research from the European Aluminium Association.
Overall, the recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in Western Europe is now 61.8 per cent, an increase by 10 per cent compared to the year 2005.
The EAA reviewed the aluminium beverage can recycling rates of 27 European Union countries.
The UK features low on the list with a recycling rate of 52 per cent. The highest recycler of aluminium beverage cans was Norway (92 per cent).
Norway operates a deposit scheme, where recyclers can claim back vouchers for the cans they recycle. The EAA found that countries that operated a deposit scheme had high recycling rates.
Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation chief executive Rick Hindley told MRW: It is important to understand what lies behind the figure. The UK may appear to be low on the league but the UK operates a different system to other European countries.
The UK has the largest market for recycling drink aluminium cans by far.
But he said local authorities currently collect materials based on weight to achieve their recycling targets and so materials such as light-weight aluminium are not captured enough in the system.
Hindley also said that Alupro is working with the Waste & Resources Action Programme and can makers, Beverage Can Makers Europe, on a scheme to encourage the recycling of aluminium drink cans outside the home.
He also said another key issue for the aluminium sector was to increase the recycling rates from kerbside collections.
The EAA reported that the aluminium beverage can market grew in Northern and Eastern Europe, while several Western European countries such as France, Spain, Greece and Germany demonstrated solid growth rates. The total market including Central and Eastern Europe grew by 14 per cent. This includes export to non-European countries.
The total number of cans consumed in Europe rose from 28.3 billion units in 2006, to 32 billion units in 2007.
Novelis national manager Andy Doran said: This is very good news and it is making can recycling look as good as it should be.