Clean sheet on recycling for materials firm

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Novelis aims to make possible a 100% certified recycled-content can
Novelis aims to make possible a 100% certified recycled-content can

Related tags: North america, Recycling

The decision of aluminium sheet supplier Novelis to offer metal with a guaranteed, certified proportion of recycled content could pave the way for similar undertakings from other materials suppliers.

Novelis is working with North America-based SCS Global Services to certify its evercan beverage can body sheet. The 90% recycled body sheet, combined with differently sourced can end material, produces a can certified as having at least 70% recycled content. The sheet is available in North America, and worldwide availability will follow later this year.

Md of SCS Stowe Hartridge- Beam explained that the certificate, which is a public document, specifies proportions both of pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled material. The same auditing process is available for other material streams.

'Critical factor'

"So far, the certification has been used in a business-to-business context,"​ he said. "It can also be consumer-facing, but to get to that stage, every step of the chain of custody first has to be certified." ​He added: "It's as much about getting to know your supply chain. A firm's ability to do that is a critical factor in risk management."

But he said: "There's clearly a value-add in communicating directly with the consumer, and we've been working to get an identifying logo on the final can."

Chief sustainability officer at Novelis John Gardner said: "We'll be talking with customers and brand owners about labelling the cans as containing high-recycled content."

In other North American materials sectors where recycled content certification has been used, including paper and glass, there has been no direct consumer communication, said SCS. Hartridge-Beam added that, where glass cullet is reprocessed as fibre, proportions of recyclate are fairly consistent. Achieving a similar level of consistency in container glass might be more challenging.

'Irrelevant'

The push to certify proportions of recycled material in North American markets has come largely from retailers such as Wal-Mart and Safeway, according to SCS. And higher up the chain? "Whether it was a brand such as Coca-Cola that asked Novelis to do this, or not, is irrelevant,"​ Hartridge-Beam argued.

SCS said while it charges for its audits and other services, there is no per-unit cost attached to the packaging. Gardner at Novelis said: "We will price evercan the same as existing can sheet products, but will require partners to promote evercan and recycling."

The Novelis European recycling facility in Latchford, UK, has been certified by SCS for the production of evercan sheet. Meanwhile, a recycling facility under construction in Nachterstedt, Germany, will contribute to a doubling of the company's reprocessing capacity between 2011 and 2015.

Gardner played down the risk that demand for recycled aluminium content might outstrip supply.

Novelis estimated that most aluminium beverage cans contained up to 50% recycled content. It said its aim with evercan was to make possible a 100% certified recycled-content can.

Related topics: Packaging equipment

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