Metal packaging is mainly collected in blue bins, which are located at central collection points. In some regions, metal packaging is collected together with light-weight packaging and then sorted. In others, it is collected together with other metal waste (e.g. scrap metal, ironmongery), with the associated costs being covered by the municipalities.
Ferrous metal recycling
Metal packaging is collected separately and sent to sorting or shredding plants, where it is sorted mechanically using different methods to remove other types of metal, impurities and contaminants. When the material has been compacted into bales or shredded scrap, it is ready for recovery. Mixed with other scrap materials and pig iron, it is a valuable raw material in the production of steel. Packaging made of ferrous metal is fully recycled, which saves raw material, energy, air and water in the manufacture of new products and avoids landfilling.
Aluminium packaging is sorted either manually or using eddy current technique, in which conducting metal objects are separated from non-conducting ones. Re-melting aluminium requires only around 5 % of the energy necessary for the production of the same quantity of virgin aluminium. Besides, aluminium can be recycled infinitely without losing its specific properties, e.g. stability, plasticity, electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, or food and drink compatibility. Recycling both uncoated and varnished aluminium is highly efficient. Packaging that consists of more than 50 % aluminium can be melted and re-cast.
What happens next to ferrous metal?
Steel sheet and, more commonly, tinplate are used in the manufacture of cans, jerry cans, lids and caps, as well as other packaging for multiple purposes, including containers for food, beverages, or chemicals (e.g. paint). The recovered materials are processed into high-grade construction steel, washing machine chassis, car or airplane parts, or steel rails.
What happens next to aluminium?
The packaging industry uses above all bare foil (chocolate wrappers etc.) or lacquered and printed aluminium (beverage cans, foil lids for yogurt pots etc.). Aluminium is also used in composite materials in combination with e.g. plastic or paper.
Did you know that …
- re-melting aluminium requires only 5 % of the energy necessary for the production of virgin aluminium?
- sending one single aluminium can to recycling helps save enough energy to power a laptop for three hours?