Alupro has released an update on its 2022 Aluminium Manifesto, outlining the current status of the UK’s aluminium recycling policies and the progress made since the manifesto’s original publication.

The review examines various key areas critical to enhancing the aluminium recycling framework in the UK.

Collection and recycling

Alupro’s initial 2022 manifesto advocated for uniform local-authority kerbside collections to increase the recycling of all aluminium packaging in the country.

The 2024 update indicates that the UK government’s Simpler Recycling policy now covers all aluminium packaging.

Nevertheless, the updated manifesto highlights concerns about the quality of the materials collected, particularly with the adoption of comingled collection systems, which may not adequately reduce contamination.

On-the-go recycling

The 2024 update points out a lack of support for on-the-go recycling infrastructure, which is essential for capturing recyclable materials consumed outside home.

The current policy proposals also do not sufficiently incentivise local authorities to establish these necessary facilities.

Alupro suggests that more robust incentives and public-awareness campaigns are needed to improve recycling rates and diminish littering.

Communication and labelling

Progress has been noted in the area of consumer communication, with the introduction of a binary labelling system that mandates clear recycling indications on packaging.

This initiative aims to reduce consumer confusion about which items are recyclable.

However, Alupro calls for further development of this approach, urging the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme administrator to collaborate more closely with organisations such as MetalMatters and Every Can Counts to broaden the reach of these successful recycling messages.

Deposit return schemes

Regarding the implementation of deposit return schemes (DRS), the manifesto update expresses concern about the exclusion of glass from DRS in England and Northern Ireland.

Alupro stresses the importance of a fair and transparent market within the DRS framework and points out the need for a consistent approach to recycling targets across different container types to avoid market distortion.

Extended producer responsibility

The update reports mixed progress on the UK’s EPR system.

While the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has advanced in developing a reporting framework, there remains significant confusion among producers regarding the submission and publication of recycling data.

There are also concerns about the adequacy of the funding model, particularly regarding the balance of costs borne by local authorities and the absence of performance incentives.

Innovation and infrastructure

Alupro’s latest review also touches on the limited support for innovation specific to the aluminium sector.

The manifesto calls for dedicated funding to assist the aluminium industry’s transition towards a more sustainable and low-carbon operation.

Waste management and recovery

Finally, the manifesto reiterates the importance of energy from waste processes and the need to recognise the recovery of aluminium from incinerator bottom ash as a vital component of the recycling process.

This acknowledgement would contribute significantly to the calculated recycling rates and support a more circular economy.

Alupro’s 2024 update serves as a critical checkpoint for the UK’s progress in aluminium recycling and highlights several areas where further action and policy refinement are necessary to achieve a more sustainable future for the material.