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Can it! How scrap metal recycling is helping the drinks industry go green

More and more drinks are being sold in cans – and scrap metal recycling is helping to supply the raw materials for those cans, as well as to reprocess them after use.

Look behind the bar the next time you’re in the pub and you’re likely to see a choice of craft beers in cans. Packaging them in this way means pubs can stock more beers at any one time, and gives you assured quality.

Meanwhile, more carbonated soft drinks are being sold in single-serving metal cans too, rather than in large plastic bottles that contain multiple servings.

This is partly due to the so-called ‘sugar tax’ focusing attention on serving sizes, but also due to consumers preferring to avoid disposable plastic containers for environmental reasons.

So scrap metal recycling – not only to produce more beverage cans, but also to recycle used drinks cans – is a crucial element in closing the loop to make the industry 100% recycling-friendly.

Drinks can recycling in numbers

Figures compiled in the summer of 2018 for metal packaging trade association Can Makers revealed a UK aluminium cans recycling rate of 72%.

That means that already, nearly three quarters of drinks cans are recovered and reprocessed into new metal products – and the report, compiled by Nielsen, added that beverage can recycling can take as little as eight weeks from being scrap metal, to being back on the shelf.

Nielsen previously reported a massive 327% growth rate in canned craft beer sales in the UK in the first half of 2017, with cans accounting for a quarter of all grocers’ and off-licenses’ craft beer sales.

Marcel Arsand, chairman of Can Makers, said: “We expect to continue to see greater interest in drink cans pack format after witnessing the success craft beer in cans has enjoyed. Not only are cans convenient and easy to chill, they are also infinitely recyclable.”

Can beer be canned easily?

The explosive growth in canned craft beers in recent years is a good sign that it’s a packaging format that works well with the product – and the Society of Independent Brewers, SIBA, agrees.

In early 2018, SIBA told brewers that metal drinks cans don’t need any change in the product, such as gas levels or pasteurisation, and the taste will be unchanged once poured into a glass.

What’s more, the reliably airtight nature of cans means a better product quality overall, as there is less risk of oxidisation leading to the beer tasting ‘off’.

And it’s not just beverage can recycling that contributes to metal cans’ sustainability credentials – they are also extremely lightweight compared to other packaging types, cutting down on carbon miles during transport.

So if you work in the beverage industry, from production, to supply, to consumer-facing businesses like bars and pubs, J Davidson Scrap can help.

With our scrap metal collections, you can ‘close the loop’ by recycling scrap metal leftover from drinks can manufacture or recycling large numbers of empty beer cans and soft drink cans ready to be used in new packaging.

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