Beverage can conversion bodes well for recycling industry | Infrastructure news

Nampak Bevcan's Springs plant

Nampak Bevcan’s Springs plant

Industry heavyweights ABInbev, Coca-Cola Southern Africa, Nampak Bevcan and Hulamin have thrown their weight behind an initiative to convert the beverage can industry from steel to aluminium.

The more than R1.258 billion investment will not only bring the region in line with other major markets such as the United States – which changed to aluminium cans in the 1970s and 1980s – but also impact the industry’s recycling statistics positively.

According to MetPac-SA, the industry body representing the interests of the local metal packaging industry, the recycling rate for used beverage cans in South Africa grew significantly from only 18 % in 1993 to its present rate of around 72%.

Aluminium an economically-viable option

The organisation’s CEO, Delanie Bezuidenhout, believes that South Africa’s conversion to aluminium played an important role in increasing recycling volumes because aluminium beverage cans are infinitely recyclable without loss of strength or quality, and offer collectors an attractive rate.

“This makes aluminium recovery and recycling an economically-viable option for beverage can collectors in the informal sector. Millions of Rands flows into the scrap metals and recycling industry each year, allowing an additional 2 000 to 3 000 people to earn a living or to supplement low incomes,” Bezuidenhout says.

No cans to landfill

Looking at the Brazilian market, which leads global can recycling with a recovery rate of 97.9%, Bezuidenhout believes that South Africa can achieve the same successes. “In Brazil, no cans go to landfill and the collectors are the most important pillar for this process.

“To this end, we are working hard on aligning industry role players with our vision to ensure that collectors benefit from an efficient and transparent market. We want to streamline the recycling of aluminium cans in order to ensure that more of the metal’s value will be passed through to collectors. It’s in all of our interests to have as high a recycling rate as possible,” Bezuidenhout concludes.

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