Metal cans are the most recycled beverage and food containers in the world. They are completely and infinitely recyclable because aluminum and steel maintain their inherent properties throughout the recycling process. That is why they can be endlessly recycled into new metal products such as bicycles, bridges or cans. Recycling metals reduces the demand for primary resources and the need to mine bauxite or iron ore. Aluminum and iron are the third and fourth most abundant elements on Earth.
Recycling also saves large amounts of energy. Using recycled aluminum requires only 5 percent of the energy needed to produce primary aluminum and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent. Recycling steel provides similar benefits, saving 74 percent of the energy required to produce primary steel. Recycling rates therefore have a major influence on the environmental footprint of metal packaging. The unique economic and environmental benefits of metal recycling play a vital role in making our world more resource efficient, creating jobs and protecting our climate.
Recycling programs depend on reliable markets for recycled materials and sufficient revenues to offset costs for collection and processing. Metal cans are by far the most valuable beverage containers in the recycling stream. In fact, metal cans often subsidize the recycling of other packages that have little or no value. The high demand for used metal packaging and an efficient recycling infrastructure for cans make it possible for a beverage can to be recycled and back on the store shelf in about 60 days. The economic value is also the main reason that nearly 75 percent of all aluminum and more than 80 percent of all steel ever produced is still in use today.
In some countries, metal packaging recycling rates are close to or even above 90 percent. However, collection systems in other countries are not performing as well. There is a tremendous amount of variation in collection systems because they are primarily managed at the local level. Many programs have failed to keep pace with changes in material markets, collection and sorting techniques and with consumer awareness. The specific collection system weaknesses in each location must be addressed in that region.
Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer,
Novelis committed itself to increase the recycled metal content in its own aluminum from 33 percent in 2010 to 80 percent by 2020. How do you plan to achieve that goal and what do you expect Ball to do in order to get there?
Ball is a key partner for Novelis in our joint sustainability efforts. From increasing the recycling rates of our products to minimizing the carbon footprint of the can, we are working together to find innovative ways to address the sustainability challenges of today and tomorrow. We know that the benefits of these efforts will be realized for not only our companies, but also our customers. Never before has collaboration between the members of our supply chain been more important.
We look forward to continued strengthening of our sustainability partnership with Ball, particularly on efforts to increase post-consumer recycling, innovation and increased dialogue with consumers, NGOs and other stakeholders on sustainability issues.