“While Australians have become excellent recyclers in our own home environments, as soon as we leave the front door it’s a different story, and for the sake of future generations we probably all need to be working harder. Recycling is something that we are passionate about at Alcoa, because our own product aluminium is endlessly recyclable.”

Brendan Foran

Eastern States Corporate Affairs Manager, Alcoa

“Recycling plays an important role in minimising water and energy use, and with the community making the right choice about disposing of their waste while they watch their local sporting team or participate in one of their favourite recreation activities, they can continue to help the environment.”

Michael Crutchfield MP

Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Water

Recycling rates in the Australian state of Victoria are expected to increase, thanks to a new partnership in Geelong and the Surf Coast.

The Western Victorian Public Place Recycling Project, launched in May 2010, has seen the installation of best practice recycling infrastructure in public places across the region; in sporting venues, recreational areas and on main streets.

The initiative of three organisations - Alcoa Foundation, Sustainability Victoria and the Barwon Regional Waste Management Group - and funded via a US$ 86,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation, the project delivers on the Victoria Government’s Towards Zero Waste Strategy. It follows the success of a similar initiative, launched at major sporting venues across Victoria, including Geelong’s Skilled Stadium, in 2007.

The new collection facilities are located in places where traditionally only regular landfill-type rubbish bins have been available, which prevented the community from doing the right thing and recycling their waste.

Alcoa, the largest aluminium recycler in Australia, produces 55,000 tonnes of recycled aluminium annually at its Yennora recycling operation in western Sydney. The facility handles half a billion used cans a year, recycling and returning them to a store shelf as a new can in as few as 60 days.

How Alcoa recycles aluminium in Australia:

  • External suppliers compact and sort the scrap aluminium to improve its density and reduce freight, storage and handling costs before delivery to the Yennora site.
  • Upon receipt at Yennora, the scrap aluminium is classified so the optimal end use and processing path can be determined.
    If it is un-coated (i.e. there is no paint or lacquer on the metal) it is loaded directly into a large furnace and melted down. Otherwise, it is processed to remove any coating and then transferred to the furnace.
  • Alloying elements are added at this point to suit the end purpose of the product; the molten alloy is then transferred into a holding furnace where the metal is tested and alloy levels adjusted before being cast into 10 tonne ingots.
  • The ingots are then transferred to the facility’s rolling mill to be rolled into aluminium sheet and sold to customers.
    Metal sourced from recycled cans requires only five percent of the energy needed to mine, refine and smelt primary aluminium, however both processes produce identical ingot.