The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) has released a report detailing how the US could meet ambitious recycling targets announced by the North American industry body in November.

The CMI set out what it calls four pillars of action that will help the US move from its 2020 recycling rate of 45 per cent, to 70 per cent by 2030, 80 per cent by 2040 and 90 per cent by 2050.

The US is the world’s biggest market for beverage cans yet has one of the developed world’s lowest recycling rates.

“We encourage stakeholders to read the report, understand how the targets and their associated economic and environmental benefits can be achieved and join the industry in a collaborative, concerted effort to have more aluminium beverage cans complete their circular journey, which the vast majority of the time is into a new can,” said CMI sustainability vice president Scott Breen. 

The CMI’s four pillars of action are to:

  • Support the introduction of efficient deposit return systems at the state and federal level.
  • Expand and improve household and out-of-home recycling.
  • Ensure that more used beverage cans (UBCs) are correctly sorted at recycling centres.
  • Educate consumers about the importance of recycling UBCs and that they can be sold for cash. 

CMI research indicates the most effective way to raise the UBC recycling rate is by improving current deposit schemes, so it is making this the primary aim. It said if a national deposit scheme had recycling rates resembling those in the state of Michigan, which offers a 10 cent deposit for each can returned, a large proportion of the 50 billion UBCs that currently go to landfill could be captured.

Canmakers have been keen to support the CMI’s aims, recognising that a boost in UBC recycling rates will make it easier for them to increase the percentage of recycled content in their beverage cans and meet their own ESG targets. 

In June, CMI members Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP) and Crown Holdings worked with the institute to finance leases for can recovery equipment at US recycling facilities. Increased can recovery levels will bring more revenue to the facilities, as well as reducing environmental impact. AMP and Crown previously gave financial support to material recovery facilities (MRFs) in Florida, Texas and North Carolina.

Canmakers Canpack and Envases are also members of the CMI, as are the aluminium sheet suppliers Constellium, Kaiser Aluminum, Novelis and Tri-Arrows Aluminum. Leading canmaker Ball Beverage Packaging is not listed as a member of the CMI.

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