Aluminium can growth outstrips recycling gains

Predicted 50% European recycling rate fails to materialise as usage increases by 11% in one year

An estimated 43% of aluminium cans were recycled in western Europe last year, up two percentage points from 1999, the European aluminium association (EEA) announced today. Despite the modest gains, recycling continued to fail to keep up with increased can consumption and the EEA's prediction of a 50% recycling rate by 2000 has been proven optimistic.

In 1998, the EEA argued that restrictions on aluminium cans in favour of reusable drinks containers introduced by some EU member states were unnecessary, bolstering its case with the prediction that half of cans would be recycled by the end of the century . (). However, 1999 figures (EED 30/05/00) and today's statistics show that recycling improvements have been comprehensively outstripped by growth in the number of aluminium cans on the market: there was an 11% increase in 2000 alone.

Christian Hey, director of the European Environment Bureau (EEB), told ENDS Europe DAILY that the sharp increase in aluminium can use "indicates that use of other types of drinks containers has dropped, probably the more environmentally-friendly containers". He added that the EEA's 2000 figures demonstrate that promotion of reusable containers is needed now more than ever.

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