Pandemic prompts recycling boom as drink can recycling rate hits record high
- More than four out of five drink cans sold in the UK in 2020 were recycled – a record high
- Recycling rates for packaging increased across the board in 2020 as nationwide lockdowns meant people were disposing of household waste in collectable recycling bins
- Yet, as restrictions ease and more food and drink is consumed in public places, there is a risk that the lack of out-of-home recycling facilities and public behaviour will cause these figures to decline
- Non-for-profit Every Can Counts says more need to be done to inspire positive behavioural change and that public recycling facilities need to improve
2020 saw a boom in household recycling according to figures which indicate that drink can recycling hit a record high last year. More than four out of five drink cans sold in the UK in 2020 were recycled and recycling rates for packaging increased across the board.
According to data published by the Environment Agency (EA), 151,515 tonnes of aluminium packaging was collected from UK households and recycled – more than any other year on record.
The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, which runs the Every Can Counts programme, has calculated recycling rates for aluminium packaging, based on the Environment Agency’s figures. 68% of all aluminium packaging used – including drink cans, food packaging, aerosols, and take-away containers – was recycled last year, up from 56% in 2019 (+12% year-on-year).
However, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and people begin to eat and drink in public places again, there is a risk that the lack of out-of-home recycling facilities will cause these figures to decline.
Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager for Every Can Counts, said: “Last year’s recycling rates are really promising – particularly the record-breaking rate for drink cans.
“With the UK now opening back up, there’s a real risk that this year’s figures won’t be as positive, which we definitely don’t want to see.”
“You only need to look at recent pictures of littering in public parks to know that more needs to be done to inspire positive behaviour change, and also to improve out-of-home recycling facilities. Every Can Counts is continuing to work in partnership with local authorities, businesses and organisations to address these issues.
“Drink cans are infinitely recyclable, meaning they can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. All the work we do aims to encourage recycling so that, ultimately, each and every drink can within the UK is recycled.”
As lockdown restrictions ease and more food and drink is consumed on-the-go in public places, not-for-profit Every Can Counts is calling on people to continue to dispose of their empty drink cans responsibly, no matter where they are.