Brazil’s recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans hit a new record as the country recycled 98.4% of packaging consumed in 2014, keeping the country as world leader since 2001.

The Brazilian Aluminum Association (ABAL) and the Brazilian Association of Highly Recyclable Cans Manufacturers (ABRALATAS) report that in 2014 the country recycled 289,500 tonnes of can scrap, corresponding to 22.9 billion units, equivalent to or 62.7 million per day, or 2.6 million cans an hour. Currently in Brazil, in approximately 30 days, an aluminium beverage can may be bought at a supermarket, used, collected, recycled and returned to the shelves for consumption.

Through the cooperative actions of all players in the recycling chain – aluminium sheet manufacturers, can manufacturers, fillers, cooperatives and recycling companies – in addition to educational campaigns by the government, the aluminium can recycling programme has seen Brazil top the global table for over a decade.

This success is the combined result of a number of factors. The most important of them is the fact that the country has an already established recycling market in all of its regions. In addition, ease of collection, transportation and marketing, as well as the high value of aluminium scrap, allied to high availability through the entire year, has driven the recycling of aluminium beverage cans, in addition to causing changes in consumers’ behaviour.

The recycling activity generates income and jobs for thousands of waste pickers and boosts the country’s economy, as well as consuming only 5% of electrical energy during the process, when compared to the primary metal production process.

Brazil’s Recycling Capital

Pindamonhangaba, a city in São Paulo State was granted the status “Brazilian Capital of Aluminium“ in 2003 by the Brazilian Aluminium Association (ABAL), in recognition of the importance of the city for the activity. An aluminium sculpture, presented to Pindamonhangaba at the time is installed at the entrance to the city.

The history of aluminium recycling in Pindamonhangaba began in the 1970s, when Alcan (now Novelis) set up a factory to produce beverage can sheet. In 1994 the company began using recycled metal in the production process and in 1996 Latasa (now Aleris Latasa) located a recycling facility in the city.

Today, recycling companies based in Pindamonhangaba have the capacity to process about 250 tonnes of aluminium scrap, attracted by the location of the city, between Brazil’s two largest urban centres – São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - and the infrastructure offered by the municipality, which has been investing heavily in expanding its industrial base.

National Day of Aluminium Recycling

Since 2003, October 28 marks the annual National Aluminium Recycling Day in Brazil, a day when ABAL promotes the economic, social and environmental benefits of aluminium recycling to students and society in general seeking to motivate individuals as well as community groups to engage in scrap collection activities.