AREME envisions a three-step solution to improve aluminium recycling:
- Optimise technical equipment in sorting centres to enable the sorting of all aluminium packaging items, even the smaller ones.
- Adapt the communication around sorting rules for these products.
- Send these small packaging items and assimilated objects to an appropriate recycling channel.
Optimise technical equipment
Currently, sorting centres sort packaging by size with a trommel. This means that smaller items are immediately discarded and sent to the incinerator, including those made of aluminium!
By installing an Eddy current separator on this stream which is currently incinerated , sorting centres would be able to recover more aluminium packaging. This same technology is already used in sorting centres, particularly to recover aluminium cans and aerosols.
According to a 2019 study commissioned by European Aluminium, the required investment would be paid off quickly, since sorting centres could capture up to 90% of all aluminium packaging entering the sorting centre thanks to this technical optimisation.
Extend and improve communication
Improving the collection of small aluminium packaging and similar items can only be done by encouraging their separate collection by citizens with simplified and clear sorting instructions. Our proposal:
- Extend waste collection to all packaging at the heart of our project.
- Involve the brands of our members through a communication campaign toward their consumers concerning the new sorting instructions for small aluminium packaging.
Set up appropriate recycling infrastructure
Small aluminium packaging requires specific treatment due to its thinness: pyrolysis. This technique enables the recovery of thin aluminium material as aggregates, fragments, or a powder with a significantly superior yield than both incineration and recovery in bottom ashes can provide.
It is possible to sort and recycle small aluminium packaging in Belgium if these three steps are followed.