80% Of All Metal is Still in Use Today


It’s estimated that up to 80% of all metal ever produced in the world is still in use today.

That’s a staggering but real statistic, because metal is a permanently available material and can be reused an infinite number of times.

But it’s also helped by the creation over many decades of a recycling infrastructure for metal that has achieved one of the highest recycling rates of any packaging material: in the UK, 74.5% of steel packaging is recycled, while in Europe the figure is 80.5%.

Recycling rates are key to measuring the true sustainability of packaging. In 2017 the full glare of the sustainability spotlight turned on the packaging sector with television images of plastic in our oceans that shocked the world.

But the debate has now perhaps moved on from the immediate aftermath call for some materials to be avoided totally. Now, a more considered response suggests that transition to a lower carbon economy should to be underpinned by a holistic approach to packaging. A materials’ ‘turf war’ would not actually resolve the carbon debate.

But the starting point is clear: materials that are genuinely recyclable, have high recycling rates, and can be reused indefinitely with no loss of quality should be the first choice.

Only metal ticks these three boxes and includes a wide range of products including empty metal paint cans which are collected for recycling at most household waste and recycling centres.