New study reveals environmental benefits of increased global aluminium can recycling

Improvements to beverage can recycling practices in six countries around the world could help to reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 60 million metric tons by 2030, according to a new study commissioned by Crown Holdings and the International Aluminium Institute (IAI).
Timo Klostermeier,

Conducted by Roland Berger, the new report establishes 20 short- and long-term levers to bolster recycling systems and increase beverage can recycling rates in several countries, four of which include Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and the UAE—key markets where Crown maintains operations.

These advancements are critical to keeping up with growing global beverage can consumption, which is set to increase by 50 percent between 2020 and 2030 and will likely increase the amount of used beverage cans (UBCs) by around three million metric tons each year in the same time period. Stronger global recycling systems can help ensure that additional volume of aluminium maintains a circular life cycle rather than be misdirected to landfill—an important measure for not only keeping valuable materials in a closed loop and preserving natural resources, but also for reducing the energy consumption and emissions levels associated with production from raw materials. This potential for a smaller carbon footprint for the beverage can would boost the format’s existing sustainability attributes of infinite recyclability, high recycled content and fast recycling turnaround time.

Drawing from assessments of waste management and regulatory schemes, collection infrastructure, recycling and landfill rates, volumes on market, UBC trade, material flows and future targets, the report zeroed in on several missed opportunities in the current recycling systems of each country. For some areas, these include bridging the gap between UBC collection and complete can-to-can recycling, as well as understanding why some cans are lost to landfill even when the region maintains a more successful recycling system. For others, challenges lie in a lack of initial recycling access points or, on the other end, a lack of infrastructure for waste trading and traceability.

The report details these potential areas of improvement and offers strategies for advancing progress in each country. Using this evaluation, Crown and IAI will work together with local partners in the UAE and in Asia Pacific that can help drive awareness and investment on regional levels. The collective action will help to not only aid targets of higher recycling rates around the world, but will also help to support evolving regulatory standards, address consumer and beverage brand demands and move the industry toward a more circular model. Key to this progress will be support for and implementation of specific legislative policies that establish guidelines and parameters for each region.


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