Metal Flow 2025 – Metal Packaging Flow Data Report

29th August 2019

The estimated quantity of metal packaging placed on the market & recycled from 2017 to 2025 and the probability of compliance with national & European recycling targets.

Key points
The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of aluminium packaging POM in 2017 was 194k tonnes (margin of error +/- 12%).
Assuming that the POM figure of 551k tonnes applies then based on this report’s projections of steel packaging POM and steel packaging recycling then the UK is expected to meet national equivalents of the business targets in 2018 and 2019, but to fall sho

Background

This project was commissioned by WRAP and carried out by Valpak Consulting, Verde Research & Consulting and WRAP, to provide support for steel and aluminium packaging material flow estimates in Defra’s packaging policy work. The objective was to review the quantity of steel and aluminium packaging being placed on the market (POM) and recycled in 2017. The project also reviewed the implications of various scenarios for future recycling rates out to 2025. The method to achieve this was primary and secondary research with engagement of a stakeholder steering group.

Project Key Conclusions: Flow (Steel)

  • The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of steel packaging POM in 2017 was 551k tonnes (margin of error +/- 12%).
  • This estimate is 22k tonnes higher than the 2013 industry estimate of 529k tonnes.
  • Steel packaging POM is projected to remain stable at 551k tonnes to 2020 and then to decline slightly to 550k tonnes in 2025

Project Key Conclusions: Recycling (Steel) 

  • The total quantity of UK steel packaging recycled in 2017 is estimated to be 541k tonnes, including 431k tonnes reported and 110k tonnes estimated as unreported recycling. 
  • Based on the POM calculated as part of this project, this gives an overall recycling rate of 98% (reported and unreported recycling) or 78% (reported recycling).

Data Sources (Steel)

  • The amount of steel packaging POM was calculated using the following methods and data sources:
  • Consumer: Packaging used in the consumer sector was estimated using retail sector sales data and packaging usage.
  • Non-consumer: Packaging used in the non-consumer sector was taken from a range of sources, including the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) and various secondary data sources.

Data Uncertainties and Appropriate Confidence in Estimates (Steel)

The data presented in the Metal Flow report intends to represent the best estimate possible, given the available data. However, owing to uncertainties inherent in many of the data sources and assumptions used, it is important to caveat the robustness of the estimates. Appendix I includes an assessment of the uncertainty and robustness of the estimates.

Meeting the EU Steel Recycling Target

  • Assuming that the POM figure of 551k tonnes applies then based on this report’s projections of steel packaging POM and steel packaging recycling then the UK is expected to meet national equivalents of the business targets in 2018 and 2019, but to fall short in 2020.
  • The associated probabilities of meeting the national equivalents of the business targets for steel packaging recycling in 2018, 2019 and 2020 are 87%, 61% and 42%.
  • Based on the POM and recycling scenarios, this report estimates that steel packaging is already meeting the proposed CEP target of 70% in 2025.

Project Key Conclusions: Flow (Aluminium)

  • The most robust estimate that could be derived suggests that the quantity of aluminium packaging POM in 2017 was 194k tonnes (margin of error +/- 12%).
  • This estimate is 20k tonnes higher than the 2013 industry estimate of 174k tonnes.
  • Aluminium packaging POM is projected to increase from 194k tonnes in 2018 to 203k tonnes in 2020 and to 223k tonnes in 2025.

Project Key Conclusions: Recycling (Aluminium)

  • The total quantity of UK aluminium packaging recycled in 2017 is estimated to be 127k tonnes, including 94k tonnes reported and 33k tonnes estimated as unreported recycling.
  • Based on the POM calculated as part of this project, this gives an overall recycling rate of 65% (reported and unreported recycling) or 48% (reported recycling).

Data Sources (Aluminium)

The amount of aluminium packaging POM was calculated using the following methods and data sources:

  • Consumer: Packaging used in the consumer sector was estimated using retail sector sales data and packaging usage.
  • Non-consumer: Packaging used in the non-consumer sector was taken from a range of sources, including the National Packaging Waste Database (NPWD) and various secondary data sources.

Data Uncertainties and Appropriate Confidence in Estimates (Aluminium)

The data presented in the Metal Flow report intends to represent the best estimate possible, given the available data. However, owing to uncertainties inherent in many of the data sources and assumptions used, it is important to caveat the robustness of the estimates. Appendix I includes an assessment of the uncertainty and robustness of the estimates.

Meeting the EU Aluminium Recycling Target

  • Assuming that the POM figure of 194k tonnes applies then based on this report’s projections of aluminium packaging POM and aluminium packaging recycling then the UK is expected to meet national equivalents of the business targets in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • Based on the POM and recycling scenarios, this report estimates that the UK is already meeting the proposed CEP aluminium recycling target of 50% in 2025.