Aerosol recycling rates show good results

Written by: Patrick Heskins | Published:

Key to informing and encouraging consumers to recycle their empty aerosols has been the fact that they are now accepted by 97% of local authorities in their kerbside recycling schemes, says Patrick Heskins, chief executive of the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association

The UK is the largest producer of aerosols in Europe, and it is estimated that UK consumers use about 10 aerosol cans per person per year. The products are hugely diverse. The largest proportion is in personal care products such as deodorants and antiperspirants, with the next highest volume being homecare aerosols such as air fresheners, polish and cleaning sprays. Once empty, all these aerosols can be recycled as they are a valuable source of high-quality steel and aluminium.

Following a survey undertaken by Populus in 2015 (in which a random sample of 2,010 adults were interviewed online), it was revealed that the vast majority of consumers – 92% – say they buy or use aerosols. Of these, 70% recycle the empty containers: 61% at the kerbside with their household recycling; and 9% at a can bank. This is great news for the aerosol sector and is something that will continue to grow.

In addition to efforts made by the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) on behalf of the UK aerosol industry to promote the recycling message, BAMA helps to fund the MetalMatters programme, which is managed for the metal packaging industry by the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro). The programme is seen by government as one of the best examples of industry motivating consumers to recycle more.

The communications programme is designed to support the UK’s current kerbside recycling schemes. It is usually run with a single local authority to target a select demographic group (e.g. by ACORN or Mosaic classification), but can be run across several local authorities in a waste partnership area.

As well as helping fund MetalMatters, BAMA and its member companies are actively involved in promoting the work the programme does, with visits to schools and recycling centres to raise awareness of how easy it is to recycle metals and, in particular, empty aerosol cans. 2017 will see the MetalMatters programme run with local authorities in Leeds and Cheshire where the communications programme will be targeting residents.

Metal is a permanently available material, and by working with organisations such as MetalMatters, BAMA hopes to raise awareness of the importance of recycling this valuable resource.

Fact file: Aerosol recycling

  • Nine out of 10 British people buy or use aerosols (Source: Populus)
  • 200 – approximate number of different uses for aerosols
  • 27% – The UK is the largest filler of aerosols in Europe and third-largest in the world after the USA and China; manufacturing over a quarter of all aerosols in the UK
  • 650 million – the quantity of consumer aerosols used each year in the UK
  • 97% – the proportion of local authorities that now recycle aerosols at the kerbside or in can banks, up from only 7% in 2001. (Source: Alupro)
  • 92% of consumers buy or use aerosols Of these, 70% recycle them: 61% at kerbside and 9% at a can bank
  • 85% of British people recycle their deodorant/antiperspirant aerosol cans (Source: Populus)

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