Tinplate and wire are almost endlessly recyclable. Metal is the world’s most recyclable material – it can be melted down time and time again, to make new supplies of high quality metal. In the UK, metal recycling is an established, globally-competitive industry that provides essential secondary raw material for metals manufacture. And as much more scrap metal is recovered than is needed for domestic production, the UK is one of the five largest metal scrap exporting countries in the world:
- 10 million tonnes of metal is recovered for recycling every year;
- 90% is exported, to almost every corner of the world.
Metal is also at the centre of the drive for sustainability, reducing both dependence on virgin raw materials and energy use. European targets have been set for the reuse, recycling or other recovery of common products. Current achievements include:
- packaging: in the UK, metal packaging is the most recycled packaging material. 78% of all steel cans and 72% of aluminium beverage cans are recycled every year .
- waste electronic and electrical equipment: metals, including wire, make up 70% of white goods and 47% of small items, such as mobile phones. Some 520,000 tonnes of WEEE was recovered in 2017.
- end of life vehicles: 75% of a car is metal, including wire used in fastenings, electrical connections and tyres. In 2015, there were around one million end of life vehicles in the UK, weighing nearly one million tonnes; and of this some 87% was re-used or recycled.