Encouraging use of recyclable items like metal
MOVES to ban a range of single-use plastics have been welcomed by one of the country’s leading recycling associations.
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) said the Government’s recent announcement is a “welcome step”, and that they hoped it would spark activity to encourage individuals and companies to use items that are 100% recyclable such as metal.
From October 2023, new rules will be implemented aiming to reduce the use of plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.
The decision is likely to impact the hospitality sector the most, and experts say it will put greater emphasis on companies and industries to improve their levels of recycling.
James Kelly, the CEO of the BMRA, has commended the announcement, which comes as the organisation launches a new drive to highlight the wider benefits that metal recycling can bring to both individuals and the wider economy.
Mr Kelly said: “We support any action the Government takes to encourage recycling. By banning single-use plastics, it will focus people’s minds on the item they are using, and what viable alternatives there are that can be recycled.
“This can go way beyond the recycling that the public can do via their kerbside collection. Metal is everywhere, including in people’s houses and sheds. If anyone has had a recent clear out or work on their house, it is likely they have metal items such as bikes, radiators, copper pipes, brass door handles. The list is endless”.
Mr Kelly’s comments come as the clock ticks down to Global Recycling Day. The event on March 18 is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year and aims to help recognise and celebrate the important role recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and the future of our planet.
As part of its ongoing Metal Goals campaign, the BMRA has today released new information highlighting ten reasons to and benefits that come from recycling metal.
Mr Kelly added: “Recycling metal has limitless potential. What your metal is being used for today, might have a new life in the future, such as a car becoming a bridge. It’s a subject we need to talk more about.
“Recycling metal has unique benefits, as well as benefiting the economy, protecting natural resources,
reducing energy use, and cutting emissions. The public can even be paid if the metal is taken to a metal recycler.
“There are safety benefits too. Over the past year there have been a number of fires linked to damaged lithium-ion batteries which have been put in the incorrect waste stream. By disposing of them correctly, the number of fires can be greatly reduced. It also means the metal within the batteries can be recycled. We are encouraging specific collections for these items to protect the public, safeguard those working in the sector and get more metal recycled.”
Ten reasons to recycle metal
Ahead of Global Recycling Day on 18 March, the British Metals Recycling Association shares ten reasons to recycle metal.
- The periodic table shows all the elements that occur naturally in the Earth or atmosphere or are a by-product of these elements. Metal comes from the Earth. About 80% of all the known chemical elements in the world are categorised as metals.
- Metal is 100% recyclable. It is permanent, and it can be recycled forever, over and over again. It contributes to the Circular Economy, avoiding landfill, as well as saving the destruction of natural habitats caused by the mining of metal ore.
- Recycling one tonne of steel can save one and half tonnes of iron ore from being mined. Iron is a metal, but steel is a man-made alloy. Steel is made by mixing iron and carbon together.
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (known as WEEE) generally covers products that have a plug or need a battery, such as fridges, vacuum cleaners, and computer equipment. As funny as that acronym is, it is important WEEE is recycled correctly. Not only does WEEE contain metal, it can also contain lithium and lithium-ion batteries that are incredibly dangerous. If they are damaged the batteries can cause fires.
- The metal in your mobile phone could be recycled into an Olympic medal. Tokyo's Olympic medals were made from 78,985 tons of recycled electronic devices, including mobile phones. It can contain gold, lithium, aluminium, cobalt, copper, lead, nickel, silver, and zinc. One tonne of smartphones contains 300 times more gold than one tonne of gold ore.
- You can get paid for your scrap metal. Ensuring you have the appropriate identification, you can go to a metal recycler and be paid by BACS, cheque or eTransfer. Cash for your scrap is illegal, however, so do report it if you are offered it.
- Recycling steel uses 70% less energy than mining and refining ore. Steel is the most widely used metal. It is easily identifiable as it is magnetic and can be easily separated from general waste. It is used to make many different items including cars, bridges, and playpark equipment.
- Recycling metal avoids sending a permanent material to landfill. There is a process called urban mining, whereby materials like metal and WEEE previously discarded in general waste, can be reclaimed from the ground. While this ensures even more metal can be recycled, it is easier. cheaper and safer to recycle it correctly first time.
- Recycling metal emits 80% less CO2 than production from raw materials. It is credentials like this that make metals recycling a key driver in the Government achieving its net zero targets.
- An aluminium drinks can can be back on the shelf of a supermarket as a new drinks can, 60 days after it was originally bought. Aluminium doesn’t have to be a drinks can in its next life, it could be aeroplane parts, a beer keg or foil for your lunchtime sandwich.
Because metal can be recycled time and time again, it has limitless potential. Let the BMRA know what you want your metal to be in its next life on social media using the hashtag #metalgoals.
Notes for editors:
ABOUT THE BMRA:
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) represents the £7 billion metals recycling sector, which comprises an estimated 2,000 businesses and employs over 15,000 people. The industry trades and processes over 10 million tonnes of ferrous and non-ferrous metals every year, including: steel, aluminium and copper. On average, we export eight million tonnes every year: or 80% of all scrap arisings in the UK.
Scrap metals are secondary raw materials whose use reduces the demand for precious natural resources needed to make new metal compounds – such as iron ore in steelmaking; nickel in stainless steel; or alumina and bauxite in aluminium smelting.
For example, every tonne of recycled steel saves:
- 1.5 tonnes of iron ore
- 0.5 tonnes of coal
- 70% of the energy
- 40% of the water
- 75% of CO2 emissions
The figures for aluminium and copper are even more impressive. The recycling of copper requires up to 85% less energy than primary production. Around the world, this saves 40 million tonnes of CO2. Recycling aluminium uses 95% less energy than producing aluminium from raw materials and saves 97% of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the primary production process.