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Improved recycling performance for aluminium closures

Due to improved collection and recycling in various European countries, the average aluminium closures recycling rate is now at 45 per cent. Aluminium recycling saves up to 95% energy use compared to its primary production, with the corresponding savings in greenhouse gas emissions. It can be recycled over and over without any loss of quality.
Aluminium closures are mainly used for wine, spirits, water and olive oil. The advantage of aluminium closures is that they can be collected either together with the mixed packaging fraction or along with the glass collection stream. The aluminium is easily extracted from both material streams so that it can be recycled.
“Aluminium closures are probably the world’s most recycled closures in the wine and spirits sector.”, comments EAFA‘s Executive Director Stefan Glimm about the improved recycling results. “Particularly, European consumers are increasingly aware of the sustainability and convenience benefits of aluminium closures. Nevertheless, the industry will continue supporting national initiatives to enhance the collection and recycling.”
Depending on the instructions to the consumers and the collection and sorting infrastructure in place, recycling rates for closures vary and range from over 85% in Germany to 65% in Italy and 45% in the UK. Encouragingly, countries with smaller alu closure market shares like Spain and France recycle more than one in three aluminium closures.
Even though small in size, aluminium closures collected together with the mixed packaging fraction are often separated with eddy-current systems. Similar systems are also used to completely separate the closures in the glass packaging fraction from the glass fraction. This is due to the production requirements in glass recycling. The value of the recycled aluminium supports the economics of the recycling process of both material routes. Once separated, the aluminium closures go into the aluminium recycling stream for re-melting to be used again for other valuable aluminium products.
The recycling rates are calculated on the basis of publicly available national aluminium recycling rates and consumption data from market research companies. This data also shows the consi­derable extent to which consumption volumes and recycling rates vary from one country to another.

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