Policy reforms could nearly double the proportion of aluminium packaging that is recycled.
That’s the verdict made in a new report from think tank Green Alliance, which says this improvement could prevent £50 million of wasted resources each year.
It shows despite aluminium being the most valuable recyclable material commonly thrown away, nearly half of it still isn’t being recycled.
In 2017, the UK recycled 51% of aluminium packaging, including 72% of aluminium drink cans – this is £30 million worth of drink cans alone.
The report claims reforms could reduce the amount of aluminium wasted from 49% to just 3% but stresses to maintain quality and value, aluminium must be extracted as early as possible, as it becomes more expensive and energy intensive to separate it later on in the waste management process.
The study notes recycling the metal will save money and energy on mining and processing, which have a significant environmental impact.
The think tank says an ‘all-in’ deposit return scheme (DRS) should be introduced and calls for kerbside collections to be improved.
Libby Peake, Senior Policy Advisor of Resources at Green Alliance, said: “We have a chance now to design a system that works for business, consumers and the environment.
“Getting it right for all materials – and not just plastic – will mean we can stop losing millions of pounds worth of materials to landfill or incineration.”