Invest now in aluminium packaging sorting and recycling, say industry experts

Speakers at a European Aluminium web workshop stressed the need to invest now in aluminium packaging sorting and recycling.

The event, which took place on 30 September, welcomed several speakers in the field to discuss investing in the circular economy. Andy Doran, chairman of the Packaging Group, and Michael Langen of HTP, a German consultancy on waste management, stated that by using a second Eddy Current Separator for the aluminium fraction in a material recovery facility (MRF) or sorting station for lightweight packaging, 30% more aluminium can be sorted, up to a level of 89%.

By installing an additional induction sensor sorter or robot sorter, a further 4-6% aluminium-containing packaging can be easily sorted for recycling. According to European Aluminium, the depreciation time for such investments stays within a reasonable period of 3-4 years. Presentations from two European leading firms in advanced sorting technologies, Steinert and TOMRA, also demonstrated these innovative sorting tools make a difference.

Mattia Pellegrini, head of the waste unit of EU Commission DG Environment, said: “The new European Circular Economy Action Plan mandates the EU to work on an integrated approach to packaging, including the circulation of all packaging we use, keeping it in economy and out of the environment.”

“The COVID-19 crisis makes the circular economy more relevant than ever,” said Member of the European Parliament Maria Spyraki. “Raw materials are not inexhaustable. Repairability, recyclability, reusability, and remanufacturing are the main opportunities in resilience.”

Andy Doran of the Packaging Group concluded: “We call upon local authorities and waste management companies to make the necessary investments in order to be prepared for the new European recycling targets for packaging and a separate target for used aluminium packaging.

“On top, we are asking for a European harmonisation of the national waste collection level, while taking into account regional differences and respecting clear sorting instructions for the citizens.”

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