The recycling rate for waste packaging in the UK is measured in PRN’s which stands for packaging waste recovery notes. A PRN is a certificate that proves one tonne of packaging waste has been recycled by a company. These accreditations are bought by businesses to prove their recycling and the money raised, funds the recycling of packaging waste in the UK.
Using these PRN’s, the Environment Agency can work out exactly how much more waste year on year that big companies are recycling. Looking specifically at aluminium, the recycling of drinks cans in the UK reached 72% in 2017 which is a two-point increase on the 2016 position, and for aluminium packaging, recycling reached 51%, a single point increase.
In terms of weight, this means 94,092 tonnes of waste aluminium was recycled in 2017, up from 90,095 the previous year. The research also concluded that over 8,000 tonnes of aluminium PRN’s were raised but not issued.
Alupro which represents the leading aluminium packaging producers, reprocesses, converters, fillers and brand owners in the UK on issues relating to the recycling of aluminium packaging, also reported that 92% of aluminium collected for recycling in the UK was recycled in Europe. The organisation also explained that they are currently looking to reform the formula for PRN’s, so that consumers can be involved and contribute to the official figures for aluminium recycling.
There is no denying that recycling is an important step of minimising waste and reducing the strain on the environment. However, recycling aluminium is arguably of most importance for manufacturers, as unlike other metals and alloys, it can be recycled over and over again without losing any quality. What’s more is that recycling aluminium saves around 95% of green-house gas compared to the primary production process.