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.
- Extend the list of items allowed in the blue P+MD bag and communicate towards citizens about the change.
- Send these small packaging items and assimilated objects to an appropriate recycling channel.
Optimise technical equipment
Currently, PMD bags arriving at sorting centres are opened and their content is sorted by size by 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.
It would be wise to already take these adaptations into consideration as new sorting centres are now being built for the extension of the blue bag to the collection and sorting of more plastic items.
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.
Our team and AREME’s members work closely with Fost Plus in order to assess the best technical and financial option to implement our project!