CMI targets 70% beverage can recycling rate by 2030

Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) beverage can manufacturer and aluminium can sheet producer members are committing to achieving ambitious US recycling rate targets including a 70% recycling rate by 2030.

The targets are being set through the institute, which represents US metal can manufacturers and their suppliers. The aluminium beverage can recycling rate was 45% in 2020, and the industry aims to attain even higher recycling rates beyond 2030 with an 80% rate by 2040 and more than 90% by 2050.

CMI says its members are committed to more aluminium beverage cans completing the circular journey into new cans. There are nearly 90,000 aluminium beverage cans recycled every minute in the US, with 93% going from the recycling bin back to store shelf for cas as a new can in as little as 60 days.

Continued high demand for aluminium beverage cans necessitates the industry’s vision for increasing recycling of used beverage cans (UBC).Increased UBC recycling would enhance the resiliency of the domestic aluminium supply chain that is incorporated into new cans.

If the can industry’s new recycling rate targets are achieved, the US recycling system also stands to gain as aluminium beverage cans are one of the most valuable commodities in the recycling stream; collecting more cans means a financially strengthened US recycling system.

The aluminium beverage can industry recycling rate over the last couple of decades has hovered around 50%.

CMI’s approach to achieving its recycling rate goals will be to change consumer behaviour through activities in four pillars of action:

  1. Catalyse the passage and implementation of well-designed deposit systems at the state and federal levels;
  2. Increase and improve household and away-from-home recycling;
  3. Ensure that more cans are properly sorted at recycling centres;
  4. Increase consumer understanding on the importance of aluminium can recycling and the ability to collect and sell used beverage cans for cash.

CMI members supporting the targets are aluminium beverage can manufacturers Ardagh Metal Packaging, Canpack, Crown Holdings and Envases; and aluminium can sheet suppliers Constellium, Kaiser Aluminum, Novelis and Tri-Arrows Aluminum.

“CMI’s aluminium beverage can recycling goals are inspired by our members’ commitment to sustainable and responsible world class, circular manufacturing processes,” said CMI president Robert Budway. “The industry is working collaboratively to increase recycling rates to benefit not only the industry’s growth, but also to strengthen the US economy and play our part in planet stewardship.”

Using the first pillar of action as an example, the industry recently added to its thought leadership on the discussion around a well-designed deposit system. CMI published a joint statement in September 2021 with the PET plastic and glass bottle industries, making clear that all three leading beverage container types support well-designed deposit systems. Further, CMI is advocating for a national deposit system in conversations with lawmakers.

Recently, the fourth grant in a can capture programme, funded by Ardagh and Crown in partnership with The Recycling Partnership, was announced for a Milwaukee area facility. Collectively, these four grants will lead to equipment installed that ensure the proper sortation and recycling of 67 million additional used beverage cans annually.

If the aluminium beverage can recycling rate had been 70% in 2020, instead of 45%, there would have been around 25.6 billion more cans recycled, which would have generated more than $400m in revenue for the US recycling system and resulted in energy savings that could power more than 1 million US homes for an entire year.

In early 2022, the industry will publish a roadmap with more details on how the targets will be achieved via these pillars.

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