54  Cans and foil

Metal cans account for about 6 per cent of domestic refuse by weight.  About 40 per cent of drinks cans are aluminium, worth about 1p each. Aluminium is a very light material with many unique properties, but its production from the raw material bauxite involves huge quantities of energy, and nearly always causes considerable environmental degradation near the mining area, so its production is too costly for it to be used only once before final disposal.  It is mined from remote regions, so transportation across the world is also polluting and wastes energy.  Recycling aluminium cans saves 95% of this energy, as well as reducing pressure on important mineral resources and impact on wildlife. 

According to the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, every year in the UK almost 5,000,000,000 drinks in aluminium cans are consumed, along with foods packed or wrapped in 35,000 tonnes of aluminium foil.  Over 10m a year is already paid to aluminium collectors, with another 30m-worth waiting to be collected!  We throw away 12 billion aluminium cans in the UK every year (source: London Recycling).

Clean, well-compacted aluminium foil also commands a high price. It is less convenient for collection than aluminium cans, and needs separate collection, so fewer organisations collect it, but this is likely to improve with increased doorstep recycling by local authorities. 

What was life like before aluminium foil and cling film? 
Mum never used those things.  Leftovers were covered with an upturned plate, 
that can be washed and re-used.


Steel cans have a much smaller value, mostly from their tin content, but are still well worth recycling. Costs of collection of all cans are vastly reduced if they are crushed.  The financial problems and contraction of the UK steel industry are unlikely to lead to greater amounts of  recycled steel.

Waste tip 
If silver coloured packaging bounces back when you bend it, it is not aluminium, but plastic. Metal stays bent!

lso see

Bins, containers and recycling aids (240)
Legal aspects of waste (Packaging Waste Regulations) (500)

Alphabetical list of organisations

Alcan Aluminium Can Recycling 
Tel 01925 784136 
Freephone 0800 262465  Fax 01925 784102 / 784108  Email pauline.dowling@alcan.com  
www.cashforcans.co.uk  (lists local collection sites)
Latchford Locks Office, Thelwall Lane, WARRINGTON, Cheshire WA4 1NP   

Purchases and promotes aluminium drinks can recycling in association with network of independent collection centres where cans can be recycled for cash. The Warrington plant is Europe's largest for processing used aluminium drinks cans, and claims it could recycle all aluminium cans bought in UK. Baled cans are melted, cast into 25 tonne ingots and shipped to a German rolling mill.  Part of Alcan Inc, Montreal, operating in 38 countries, employing over 48,000.  Regional processing centres at Birmingham, Swindon and Manchester. Works in partnership with Cheshire Recycling paper mill.  Supports projects through PRNs (Packaging Recovery Notes). Local collections at Leytonstone High Road, London E11 4DR, Tel 0208 532 8373; Horn lane, Acton, London W3 6NP, Tel 0208 896 0583. Sub depots at Merton and London Colney, Herts.  (Updated Jan 2003)

Alchemy Metals Group

Tel 01438 741555 Stevenage (office)
8-10 The Glebe, STEVENAGE, Herts SG2 0DL

Independent aluminium can recycling centre. Supply and service all types of collection banks. Bagged collection scheme for schools and fundraising groups. Public welcome, by appointment, to bring aluminium cans for recycling to Alchemist Works at Whemstead Road, Benington, Stevenage SG2 7BX. Enquiries to the office address at The Glebe. Also trade scrap dealer - lithoplates, copper, brass etc.

Aluminium Federation (ALFED)

Tel 0121 456 1103  Fax 0870 138 9714
Email info@alfed.org.uk  Website www.alfed.org.uk

Broadway House, Calthorpe Road, Five Ways, BIRMINGHAM B15 1TN
Contact  Dr David A Harris, Secretary General

Trade Association which represents the UK aluminium industry. 200 member organisations, some listed on website.  Aims to expand the market for aluminium products in the UK. (Updated Jan 2003)

Aluminium Foil Container Manufacturers Association (Alufoil)
Tel 0845 722 7722 / 01527 597757  Fax 01527 594140
Website www.alufoil.co.uk
1 Brockhill Court, Brockhill Lane, Redditch, Hereford & Worcester B97 6RB
Contact Cherry Hamson

Trade body promoting recycling aluminium packaging, foil and cans. (Updated Jan 2003)

Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro)
Tel 01527 597757  Fax 01527 594140
Email info@alupro.org.uk  Website www.alupro.org.uk 
1 Brockhill Court, Brockhill Lane, REDDITCH, Hereford & Worcester B97 6RB 

Not-for-profit company, sponsored by the leading can sheet and foil rollers and foil converters supplying the UK.  Encourages and develops recycling collection for education and for representing the aluminium packaging industry to government. (Updated Jan 2003)

AMG Resources Ltd

Tel 0121 427 7272 Fax 0121 427 2404
Harbourne House, 70 High Street, Harbourne, BIRMINGHAM, West Mids B17 9NJ

Operate recycling plants at Llanelli, South Wales and Hartlepool, reclaiming tin and steel from food and drink cans and industrial tinplate scrap. Purchase bulk quantities of cans delivered to site.

Be-el Techniques

Tel 01925 639766 Fax 01925 639766
16u Penkeith Business Park, WARRINGTON, Cheshire WA5 2TJ

Markets a simple aerosol can recycling system comprising can puncturing tool and activated carbon filter, which screws on to the bung openings of a standard 55 gallon drum. This receives the residual contents, which may also be recycled. Propellant gas is safely released; odours and stray volatile organic compounds are absorbed by the filter; aerosol cans are transformed into recyclable steel. Operation time is about 30 seconds, but a performance record of 1200 cans over a seven-hour shift is claimed!

Beaver Metals

Tel 0121 776 7099 Fax 0121 749 3769
Marsh Lane, Water Orton, BIRMINGHAM, West MidsB46 1NS

Bulk purchaser of aluminium foil and all non-ferrous metals.

British Aerosol Manufacturers Association (BAMA)

Tel 0207 828 5111  Fax 0207 834 8436 
Kings Buildings, Smith Square, Westminster, LONDON SW1P 3JJ

Trade association promoting recycling of steel, aluminium and glass aerosol containers.  General information pack available.  Presentations can also be arranged for those with professional responsibility.

Cash for Cans
Raises funds through recycling for groups, schools and charities.
See Alcan

Dacorum Borough Council MRF

Tel 01442 242831 Fax 01442 242150
Cupid Green Depot, Redbourn Road, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, Herts HP2 7BA

Materials Recycling Facility, also serving some neighbouring districts. Purchases food and drink cans; also used plastic containers, separated by plastic type.

ECT Recycling

Tel 0208 832 2494 Fax 0208 832 1983
Email info@ectrecycling.co.uk  Website www.ectrecycling.co.uk   
Greenford Depot, Greenford Road, GREENFORD, Middlesex UB6 9AP

Substantial independent, not for profit charitable community organisation, headed by Ealing Community Transport, set up in 1979, dedicated to serving the community through recycling and transport.  Now largest UK not for profit recycling organisation employing 200 and operating and maintaining 100 vehicles.  Runs local authority contracted kerbside recycling box collections in Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hackney, Hounslow, Lambeth, Richmond, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest; also Vale of White Horse and West Oxfordshire.  Collects cans, foil, glass, oils, paper, surplus paint and textiles, using purpose-built vehicles. Paint is redistributed to anyone able to use it, via a 'Community Re>paint' scheme established in 1994.  Pioneer of Furniture Recycling Network, collecting unwanted domestic furniture for those who need it; redistributes office furniture throughout London.  Tests and extracts CFCs from scrap refrigeration equipment.  Piloting kitchen waste collection OWL (Organics in West London) to be made into compost then sold for use in parks and gardens, feeding the soil.  Recycling Hotline 020 8937 5037 for residents with queries about their doorstep recycling service.  Parent company of Lambeth Community Recycling.  Also runs transport services aimed mainly at older and disabled people; and ECT Buses provides some bus routes for London.  (Updated Nov 2003)

Firbank Chiltern 
Tel 01582 475500 / 476600  Fax 01582 664117 / 476990
Email sales@firbanks.ltd.uk  sales@dwg.uk.com  Website www.firbanks.ltd.uk  www.dwg.uk.com 
Blackburn Road, Townsend Industrial Estate, Houghton Regis, DUNSTABLE, Beds LU5 5BQ

Trading name of Dunstable Waste Group Ltd, formed in 2003 by merger of Firbank Recycling and Chiltern Waste.  Waste disposal and recycling company operating transfer station, container hire and bulk collections.  Collects segregated cardboard and office waste paper, providing reduced disposal costs for most companies.  Also recycles aluminium and steel cans, timber, pallets, metals and plastics .  Collects special wastes including chemicals, solvents, oils, medicines, liquids, aerosols.  Supplier of Firbanks woodchips in four natural colours for garden mulch, to suppress weeds and protect from frost - Tel 0800 731 9207, email woodchips@firbanks.ltd.uk - guidance on website.  (Updated Oct 2004)

Greencare Ltd

Tel 08700 502050 Fax 01453 502060
Email sales@greencare.co.uk  Website www.greencare.co.uk 
Greencare House, SHARPNESS, Glos GL13 9UD

Free collection of all office technical waste, including all types of printer and photocopier cartridge, ribbon and cassette. Weekly or monthly as required by network of franchisees who provide free collection containers. Remanufacture of laser, fax and inkjet cartridges.  Where reuse is not possible, plastic (eg ribbons) is supplied to granulators for recycling. Sale of reconditioned supplies. Freephone number for sales and collections only 0800 502050.  Collects fluorescent tubes, sodium lamps, batteries (NiCad, Ni, MH, lithium and mercuric oxide) for Mercury Recycling, and aluminium and steel drink cans, computers and printer fusers. (Updated Feb 2001)

Greenback Recycling

Tel 01707 332525 Mobile 0976 361884

Collection of drink cans for recycling from offices, schools and colleges, and also homes if in quantity. Can crushers and containers provided. Cash paid to schools and fundraising organisations. Also collect newspapers for a 5 charge.

Greener World Ltd
Tel 0208 571 0100 Fax 0208 843 0500
Suite 001, Charles House, Bridge Road, SOUTHALL, Middx UB2 4BD
Email enquiries@greenerworld.com  Website www.greenerworld.com 

Collects many types of recyclable materials, including waste paper, electrical equipment, confidential waste, and fluorescent tubes and bulbs from offices and service sector industries.  Collects glass bottles, cans, plastic cups, office paper, newspaper and magazines, cardboard and used cooking oil from offices, hotels and restaurants.  Over 600 businesses and 800 households served throughout Greater London.  Will provide environmental audit, carry out thorough review of a company's wastes, and help carry out policy, which will cut both waste and costs.  Dedicated to recycling - will provide recycled products to close the recycling loop, and promotional material to inform customers of your recycling policy.  Can collect up to twice daily if required.  Range of bags and containers available.  Established 1991.  (Updated May 2005)

KGR Metals Ltd
Tel 0161 794 9646 (7am-7pm)  Mobile (24 hours) 07718 743282  Fax 0871 7335247
Email mail@kgr-metals.co.uk  Web www.kgr-metals.co.uk
Unit 4, Leverbridge Mills, Radcliffe Road, BOLTON, Lancs BL3 1RU
Contact  Kevin English, kevin@kgr-metals.co.uk 

Metals processing and recycling centre, specialising in aluminium (including toll conversion), foil and steel cans.  Also receives batteries, aerosol cans, computer hardware, and electric cable.  Serves businesses and communities locally and nationally, from multinationals and local authorities to small businesses.  Scrap metal collection from can banks at amenity and community waste sites.  Printed circuit boards and low end computer equipment are recycled to recover copper, other precious metals, and the boards themselves.  Materials are weighed and checked before the laboratory analyses each metal for the best form of re-use, and to ensure quality specifications.  Operates a public weighbridge.  Fleet vehicles supply nationwide collection and delivery, including a "just in time" service.  Free estimates.  Website's information section includes advice, facts and graphs on recycling of UK domestic and industrial metals.  (Updated Jan 2004)

London Recycling Ltd

Tel 0207 511 8000  Fax 0207 511 3785
Unit 4D, North Crescent, Cody Road, Canning Town, LONDON E16 4TG
Website www.london-recycling.com   Email  recycle@london.recycling.co.uk 

Confidential data destruction - paper and non-paper products, cardboard (flattened - cages or wheelie bins provided).  Security sacks, bins, containers provided.  Collection and purchase of drink cans, glass, foil, segregated grades of waste paper, toner cartridges for remanufacture (minimum 10), fluorescent tubes, vending cups, CDs, pallets.  Collection mainly within M25 area.  (Updated Aug 2005)

MRF St Albans Recycling
Tel 01727 845903 / 848957  Fax 01727 848960
Ronsons Way, Sandridge Gate Business Centre, St Albans Road, Sandridge, ST ALBANS, Herts AL4 9XR
Contact: Vic Barratt or Terry Warren

Waste management contractor operating MRF (Materials Reclamation Facility) for St Albans City & District Council, serving glass, can and paperbank sites and kerbside scheme including plastic bottles.  Provides schools with 1100 litre wheeled bins for paper and cans. Accepts materials brought from outside borough.  Also runs MRF for London Borough of Croydon, and depot at Farnham. (Updated Feb 2001)

Paper Round

Tel 020 7620 3131  Fax 020 7 247 8777
Website www.paper-round.co.uk 
Email info@paper-round.co.uk
Room 428, The London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Bishopsgate, LONDON E1 6EL

Largest London office paper recycling company, initiated in 1989 as part of Friends of the Earth.  Over 14 years, customers have saved the equivalent of 250,000 trees.  Recycles all types of office paper (white and colour should be separated - useful info / FAQ on website), and security shredding service (security sacks available).  Small charge for mixed and shredded paper.  Free collection of (minimum 10) laser printer & ink-jet toner cartridges (not photocopier toner bottles).  Minimum 6 sacks or 10 A4 photocopier boxes full of paper.  Glass, drinks cans & plastic bottles collected.  Surplus brochures & office clear-outs.  Free advice on office recycling - guide to bins and storage on website; cardboard or plastic recycling bins can be supplied.  Gives companies annual certificate detailing recycling achievements.  Membership fee subject to paper prices.  Annual donations to Friends of the Earth and other environmental good causes.  Newsletter has information on paper recycling and topical environmental issues.  (Updated May 2005)

Pulp Faction Recycling
Tel 0208 374 0184
Email pulpsimon@blueyonder.co.uk  Website www.pulpfaction.com
19 Christchurch Road,
Crouch End,  LONDON N8 9QL
Contact Simon Aldridge 

Collection of white office paper, regularly or when required - annual fee
50. Six bags supplied - only two thirds full please due to weight.  Toner,
ink and bubblejet cartridges collected for recycling at no extra charge.
(Cannot collect remanufactured cartridges or toner bottles.) Three tier
charging scale depending on service, including coloured paper, cardboard,
glass, cans or plastics - more info on website.  Security shredding service,
minimum charge 40. Sell Evolve recycled paper, 20 for 5 ream box; A3 also
available. Recycled cardboard office paper containers 10 each, or various
plastic bins.
(Updated Aug 2002)

Unity 70 - Youth Clubs for Handicapped Young People
Tel 0208 360 7731
Winchmore Pavillion, Highfield Road, LONDON N21 3HD

Charitable reclamation scheme for aluminium cans and foil operating via collection centres at schools, supermarkets, churches, etc, in the Enfield area. Approximately 40 volunteers with practical assistance given by handicapped young people at sorting premises provided by London Borough of Enfield's Montagu Road Depot.

Waste Not Recycling (London) Ltd

Tel 0208 880 0325 Fax 0208 880 0282
24 Rossendale Street, Hackney, LONDON E5 8TA

Collection of aluminium cans and textiles. Provides payback service to community groups, charities, schools etc. Minimum 6 binliners of cans, 4 sacks textiles. Payback on 10 or more sacks of textiles. Associated with The Rubbish Dump interactive education centre (see separate entry).