Does the programme cost anything to get started?
No, we provide the materials to get you started free of charge.
Do you collect the cans?
Every Can Counts works with your existing waste management system. If you have a mixed dry recycling service with your waste contractor, just tie up the bag of cans and place it with your other recyclables.
If you don’t have an existing recycling service you can:
-Look up waste contractors near you by clicking here
-Sell your cans to a metal merchant. Click here to see a list of metal merchants.
-Donate the cans to one of our charity partners, contact us for details of your nearest charity partner.
How do I partner with Every Can Counts at an event or festival?
We would like to volunteer at an event as a corporate group, can we do this?
Can I make money from my cans?
If you have the space to store or bale your cans you can collect them in bulk and sell them to a scrap metal merchant. Click here to find your nearest metal merchant.
Can I order more Every Can Counts materials?
Yes! Please supply details of where you plan to place the materials and we’ll be happy to supply them.
Do we have to crush the cans?
You do not have to crush the cans. Some organisations crush the cans to create more room in their recycling bin, but it’s entirely optional.
Do you have can crushers available?
We lease can crushers to organisations with high volumes of cans and established Every Can Counts programmes in place.
In order to lease a can crusher we ask they’re placed in a secure venue, and covered by the venues insurance.
To check on availability contact us here.
How many cans are recycled in Europe each year?
About 31 billion aluminium beverage cans are recycled in Europe (EU28 + EFTA) each year and this number has increased steadily over the years. Moreover, we believe a significant but unfortunately unregistered number of used cans is also collected by the informal recycling sector. The average aluminium can recycling rate in Europe stood at 74.5% in 2017 and we are keen to improve this towards 90% or more by 2030. Ireland’s drink can recycling rate reached 73% in 2018, its highest ever level.
Is can recyclability reduced over time?
Glass and aluminium (and metals in general) share one advantage: they are permanent materials as their physical properties or material characteristics remain unchanged during their recycling processes, which is not the case for plastics or paper. Aluminium also benefits from a lower melting point (660°C) than glass (around 1500°C), requiring less energy during the recycling process.
Over the past decade, the can has become lighter than it was. Is there space for further improvement?
Light weighting refers to a reduction in the overall metal weight of the can, whereas downgauging refers to a reduction in the thickness of the metal coil used to produce the drink can.
Today, only 12.2 kg of aluminium is needed to manufacture a thousand 33cl aluminium drink cans. Since 1984, the amount of aluminium used to manufacture a 33cl drink can has been reduced by more than 24% on average. In 1984, the average can weighed 16.1 g and this fell over time to 12.2 g in 2016. (source: a MPE LCA study based on 2016 data).
There are physical limits to what can be done in terms of light weighting, but drink can manufacturers and aluminium can sheet suppliers are constantly investing in research and development with the goal of further weight reductions, better designs, environmentally friendly inks and coatings, renewable energy use, and introducing user-friendly formats for consumers. The most common can sizes are 15, 25, 33 and 50 cl.
Where in Europe are cans recycled?
There are more than 220 aluminium recycling plants spread across Europe that can easily recycle drink cans by melting and then refining them to produce new products.
The biggest plants mainly dedicated to drink can recycling are in Nachterstedt, Germany (Novelis), Neuss, Germany (Hydro), Warrington, UK (Novelis), Neuf-Brisach, France (Constellium) and Athens, Greece (Elval). These recycling plants mainly do so-called closed loop “can-to-can” recycling, which means they produce aluminium can sheet rolls ready to be used by can manufacturers to produce new drink cans.
How many cans can be produced from one tonne of (compressed) aluminium?
If one considers producing 33 cl aluminium drink cans from one tonne of used aluminium cans, one could probably produce nearly 82,000 cans given that today only 12.2 g of aluminium is needed to manufacture a thousand 33 cl aluminium drink cans.
How should metal be sorted correctly? Can we orientate ourselves by specific symbols like with PET bottles?
Yes, absolutely! Drink cans are mainly made from aluminium and metals like aluminium or steel are considered permanent materials. That means that they do not degrade or lose their physical properties during the recycling process and can be recycled infinitely, whatever their colour, size, or shape.
Drink cans made from aluminium often bear the aluminium symbol with two chasing arrows or the more official symbol with three chasing arrows and the number 41.
Launched in 2014 by members of Metal Packaging Europe – the trusted authority on metal packaging in Europe – the Metal Recycles Forever (MRF) mark is paramount to informing and helping consumers better understand the key role they have to play in keeping metal in the material loop by recycling their empty packaging.
The MRF mark requires no ambitious language or clever wording. It makes a clear statement that metal recycles forever, and has ranked highest in consumer research on recycling symbols for its cut-through clarity.
The MRF logo is freely available to brand owners and applicable to all forms of metal packaging, not just for drink cans.
Drink cans made from steel can be identified by this symbol:
How do aluminium beverage can recycling rates compare with aluminium recycling rates in other fields such as the automotive industry?
While the average aluminium drink can recycling rate in Europe stood at 74.5% in 2017 (EU28 + EFTA), recycling rates in the building and automotive sectors are even higher and reach over 90% on average. According to the aluminium industry, 75% of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today!
Where does a drink can end up once it is collected for recycling? Is the process the same in every country?
For the recycling process, have a look at our can recycling story on our European website: https://everycancounts.eu/can-recycling/.
In Ireland, recyclable items are predominantly collected from your home and sorted at an materials recovery facility (MRF). There all the mixed recycling is separated into different types of materials by hand or machine (or both) before being sent to manufacturers who make it into new products.
Once collected and sorted, recycled materials become valuable commodities in the worldwide market. Used drink cans could then become new drink cans and can be back on the store shelf in about 60 days. A can could also become part of a bike, a car, a phone, or even an espresso pot. In fact, it doesn’t really matter where the recycled metal goes for a second life as long as it stays in the metal loop where it can remain forever!
Can aluminium be sorted from mixed waste?
Absolutely! That is not a problem provided MRFs are equipped with the right modern sorting equipment. While steel/ferrous packaging is isolated first with a magnet, being a non-ferrous metal, aluminium is then easily isolated from the rest of the waste stream thanks to Eddy Current Separators which are strong magnetic fields to which aluminium responds by “jumping” when other materials would not react. This isolates aluminium waste in a second container placed further away from the end of a conveyor belt in a sorting centre. The closest container would then only collect everything that is not ferrous or non-ferrous metal packaging.
What is ECC´s outlook for 2050?
By 2050, we sincerely hope that that each and every drink can consumed in Europe will be sorted and recycled. Meanwhile, we are aiming for an overall can recycling target of 90% or more by 2030.