Suez and Alupro announce aerosol recycling partnership

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SUEZ recycling and recovery UK has entered a two-year partnership with Alupro, the aluminium packaging recycling organisation, as part of a roadmap to increasing UK aerosol recycling rates.

An estimated 650 million metal aerosols are used in the UK each year, with over 80% of these used in the home. Upcoming reforms to packaging recycling in the UK, including a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, Simpler Recycling in England and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), present an opportunity for the metal packaging sector to redouble their efforts to push metal recycling rates even higher than they are today (the aluminium packaging recycling rate for 2023 was 68%).

The project aims to provide data and case studies on how to increase the capture, sorting and treatment of aerosols. The first phase, over the coming 12 months, will see SUEZ recruit three local authorities in different areas across the UK to monitor and analyse aerosol capture rates, ready for the next phase of the trial to start in 2025. The next phase of the trial will see a year-long sampling exercise measuring the quantities of aerosols collected through both the residual and recycling kerbside streams, as well as looking into the challenges of sorting and analysing aerosols collected through the kerbside system. Further, the year will see the trialling of a brand new communications campaign to consumers to boost aerosol recycling.

Research by Alupro has shown many people are unsure of how to dispose of aerosols and as a result, fewer aerosols are disposed of in household recycling collections, compared to most other forms of metal packaging. In 2023, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) found that 18% of the UK population admitted to throwing aerosols in their normal rubbish bin in the past year. This project will improve public knowledge around best practice recycling, establish a baseline recycling rate and roadmap for achieving higher future rates for aerosol recycling, and seek to stimulate substantial long-term investment into recycling infrastructure.

Through this partnership, SUEZ and Alupro will work together towards their goal of consumers recycling all their empty aerosols responsibly in their household collection service, with confidence that this will result in their packaging waste being collected, sorted, recycled and transformed into something new.

Led by Alupro, the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative brings together partners from across the aerosols value chain. These partners include Suez recycling and recovery UK, Ball Aerosol Packaging, Trivium Packaging, the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA), packaging compliance scheme Ecosurety, consumer brand Henkel, valve manufacturer LINDAL Group, The Materials Processing Institute, waste company CleanEco and processors of reclaimed metal Tandom Metallurgical Group Ltd and Tata Steel.

John Scanlon, chief executive officer at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “We’re looking forward to working with Alupro on this exciting and important initiative to improve aerosol recycling in the UK. With the 50% aluminium recycling target coming in the near future under EPR, excluding drinks containers, it’s imperative that we maximise the recycling rates of aerosols, through establishing a baseline recycling rate and improving public understanding. We’re pleased to be partnering with Alupro to drive forward this initiative and share best practice with the sector through our research findings.”

Tom Giddings, executive director at Alupro, said: “This communications, collections and sorting trial represents the next big milestone on our roadmap to higher recycling rates for aerosols, and we’re delighted to partner with Suez, whose expertise in delivering innovative projects led us to approach them to help us with this. We’re excited to see the results of the trial as they develop and to use them to build a blueprint for higher recycling rates. Hopefully, the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative will serve as a template for how responsible industries can collaborate to bring the circular economy to life; after all, metal is the perfect material for recycling again and again, so we should be minimising how much we waste!”

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