In 2023, the International Aluminum Institute (IAI) undertook a comprehensive examination of the state of aluminum can waste management in six diverse countries across the United Arab Emirates and Asia Pacific.
The group commissioned Roland Berger, a leading global consultancy firm, the study delved into the intricate landscape of can usage, collection, and processing in Australia, Cambodia, South Korea, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. These countries were chosen as they offer a wide spectrum of insights into the unique dynamics of beverage can recycling, reflecting distinct cultures, regulations, and infrastructure.
Furthermore, the study shed light on the regional trade of used beverage cans scrap in the Gulf and Asia Pacific regions, two pivotal trading hubs.
The Environmental Imperative
The pressing concern of managing aluminum can waste resonates globally, given the environmental implications.
According to the findings, effective global recycling of used beverage cans could potentially save 60 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually by 2030, showing the urgency of enhancing recycling practices.
Analyzing the Six Nations
For each of the six countries, the study scrutinized several key aspects of waste management and recycling, forming a comprehensive view of the state of aluminum can recycling. These aspects included waste management and regulatory schemes, collection infrastructure, recycling and landfill rates, market volumes, usage trends, overall performance, used beverage can trade, material flows, and future recycling targets.
The six countries under scrutiny can be broadly categorized into three distinct groups:
- Countries Dependent on Informal Collection Mechanisms: Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam fall into this category. These nations rely heavily on informal collection mechanisms and employ a significant number of informal workers to gather used cans. Given that these cans generate revenue for the sector, these countries report high recovery rates.
- Developed Systems: Australia and South Korea have well-established systems for managing aluminum can waste. They rely on complex waste management systems, which may include extended producer responsibility and deposit return systems.
- Transitioning Systems: The United Arab Emirates is positioned as a transitioning system. While the collection infrastructure is largely developed, it does not encompass mandatory or well-functioning EPR or DRS systems.
The Dominance of Aluminum Cans
Aluminum cans continue to be the preferred packaging choice for the alcoholic and soft drinks industries, and global consumption is expected to surge by 50% between 2020 and 2030. This implies an increase from 420 billion to 630 billion cans annually, further highlighting the significance of effective recycling strategies.
The IAI’s study was made possible through the collaboration and funding of key industry players. Emirates Global Aluminum, Crown Holdings, Australian Aluminum Council, and Novelis played pivotal roles in co-funding this review.
The review conducted by Roland Berger involved a meticulous examination process. Stakeholder interviews, regulatory reviews, market and value chain assessments, data collection, and the development of data models were part of the rigorous approach. The study also included baselining for various metrics, such as volumes, rates, and prices.
For those interested in a detailed visualization of the data and findings from this study, a comprehensive resource is now available on Alucycle, providing a visual representation of the intricate world of aluminum beverage can recycling in the United Arab Emirates and Asia Pacific.
In conclusion, the IAI’s collaboration with Roland Berger has shed light on the complexities and potential opportunities within the aluminum beverage can recycling landscape. By categorizing the six nations and recognizing the environmental imperative, this study offers valuable insights into how the world can collectively move towards more sustainable aluminum can recycling practices.