Metal market ‘well-placed’ on innovation and environment

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Metal packaging has the capability ‘to be infinitely recyclable’, says William Boyd
Metal packaging has the capability ‘to be infinitely recyclable’, says William Boyd

Related tags: Recycling

Metal’s ‘endlessly recyclable’ credentials, along with continued structural innovation, will become more important over the next few years according to director and chief executive of the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) William Boyd.

The European Commission’s (EC’s) new-found focus on the circular economy and the reuse and recycling of valuable resources has significant implications for packaging.

Boyd said: The driver behind circular economic thinking is to prevent waste, and convert waste into a benefit. Metal packaging has the capability to be infinitely recyclable. The distinction between metal and some other packaging materials, and between ‘permanent availability’ and mere ‘recyclability’, has in the last few years been enshrined in a British Standard ​[BS8905].”

Unlike aluminium and tinplate, materials such as paper and plastics diminish in quality the more they are recycled.

‘Circular economic thinking’

“Over the next five years or so, our own government and the EC – which drives so much of our regulation – are going to become increasingly focused on this circular economic thinking,”​ he said.

More generally, Boyd said: “Going forward, I think metal packaging’s established environmental credentials are going to become increasingly important.”

Both aluminium and steel have a steep hill to climb to achieve the EC’s proposed 2025 reuse/recycling targets of 75%. But he pointed to two campaigns that illustrate the potential for higher recycling rates.

‘Targeted initiatives’

“MetalMatters, which is managed by Alupro, targets UK local authorities, 97% of which already have metal packaging recycling capabilities,​ said Boyd. “The idea is to have targeted initiatives with specific local authorities.”

The second campaign, Every Can Counts, targets out-of-home consumption. Since its launch in 2009, it has assigned 12,600 collection bins in offices, at events and in other public spaces.

In terms of market share, Boyd said: Over the past five years, the market for beverage cans has grown consistently by 2% or 3% per year, while food cans have pretty much held their own.

Metal packaging

  • 3% growth in the market for beverage can in past five years
  • 97% of UK local authorities have metal packaging recycling capabilities
  • 75% reuse/recycling target set by the EC 

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