The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organization, Alupro, recently commissioned a research project to investigate the suitability of the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system for recording aluminum packaging recycling to reveal the actual recycling rate in the UK. Alupro has repeatedly voiced concerns to Defra and the Environment Agency (EA) about the inherent weaknesses in the PRN system. The research was carried out by independent environmental consultancy, Resource Futures, which aimed to determine how much aluminum packaging is reprocessed or exported beyond that reported by the accredited organizations.
Alupro has now released a statement noting that, following approval from Defra and the Environment Agencies, revisions are being introduced to the protocol which accounts for aluminum packaging recovered from incinerator bottom ash (IBA).
Three revisions to the protocol are designed to obtain a more accurate rate of the aluminum packaging currently being recycled in the UK or exported for recycling.
- The existing protocol which is based on the mixed non-ferrous element of IBA has been revised. The protocol now recognizes that a minimum of 70% of the mixed non-ferrous metals recovered from IBA is aluminum packaging, including drinks, cans, foils, and aerosols. This increase from the previous percentage of 50% follows detailed studies of tested samples and discussions with metal processors since the introduction of the initial protocol in January 2015.
- A new protocol is being introduced based on the aluminum fraction which is recovered from mixed non-ferrous. When the original protocol was developed the majority of the aluminum packaging recovered from IBA was exported, mixed with other non-ferrous metals. The protocol was, therefore, based upon the total mixed non-ferrous metals recovered.
Ongoing analysis of IBA has led to this adjustment, which recognizes that significant volumes of mixed non-ferrous metals are sold by IBA processors to UK metal reprocessors who separate the aluminum fraction for export or sale to a UK remelter.
Up to now some metals processors have been applying the original 50% figure to the recovered aluminum fraction, instead of the actual recovered aluminum packaging fraction, meaning that packaging recovery has been under-reported.