Novelis UK demonstrates a ‘can’ do approach to recycling

Posted on 14 Mar 2013 by Tim Brown

A delegation from Mason Metals this week attended a plant tour of Novelis UK's Chesire facility, which is capable of recycling all the aluminium cans used in the UK.

The plant produces 26 tonne ingots entirely from recycled aluminium cans. The ingots are then sent to Germany to Europe’s only rolling facility; where the blocks are rolled into sheets and supplied to can makers in the UK to be re-manufactured into drinks cans. Despite the downside of transportation, this model is a prime example of “closed loop recycling”.

Novelis UK currently handles 50-100 tonnes of recycled cans per week which equates to 6.5 million cans - photo courtesy of Mason Metals.
Novelis UK currently handles 50-100 tonnes of recycled cans per week which equates to 6.5 million cans - photo courtesy of Mason Metals.

With around 65,000 cans in a tonne, the ingot blocks represent an astonishing 1.69 million recycled cans and a saving of 234 tonnes of carbon emissions. Currently handling 50-100 tonnes of material per week, this equates to a total of 6.5 million cans.

Novelis UK’s Metal Buyer for the Midlands Martin Essex said  that with the recent investments made a the plant it has the capacity to recycle all the used aluminium cans within the UK.

“The current UK recycling rate for aluminium drinks cans is around 55% so we’ve got plenty to aim at,” said Mr Essex. “We purchase used beverage cans from local authorities, waste management companies and scrap metal merchants. Mason Metal’s does a great job in sourcing them through their network. One thing is for certain – we always need more.”

Mason Metal’s sister company Halesowen Metals is one of a number of regional aggregation centres Novelis use to collect and grade aluminium cans before being melted at the Warrington plant.

The delegation were shown the huge new shredding lines that have been installed at Warrington. These lines shred, sort and clean the cans ensuring they are free from contamination before removing the paint from the cans and finally transferring the molten aluminium into the furnace.

These huge processing improvements mean the hungry furnaces require ever more aluminium and the staff at Halesowen have been told to prepare to be busy!

Neil Woodall, commercial manager at Mason Metals said: “Being shown these new investments and seeing how the process works at such a modern facility was very impressive. We were able to show our operational staff how what we do fits into the onward recycling of the cans and how important this is”.

Mason Metals has been a ‘Cash for Cans’ collector for over 20 years. The site has always been popular with charities, clubs, churches and schools who recycle cans to raise funds for their causes. Mr Woodall said that he was concerned that “due to the cash ban on scrap metal purchases there is a worry that people would loose the incentive to recycle; especially fund raisers.”