Diageo invests in aluminium recycling consortium

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Uk cans Beverage cans recyclable packaging

Diageo has provided funding to establish the British Aluminium Consortium for Advanced Alloys (BACALL), a collective of industry experts aiming to create a circular economy for aluminium in the UK.

While aluminum cans have grown in popularity as an alternative to plastic bottles, the UK is reliant on an energy-intensive supply chain to recycle and remake cans: based on the ‘unsustainable exporting and importing of aluminum’.

The consortium will seek to address this problem by building an aluminum recycling and manufacturing plant to roll hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aluminium sheet in the UK – equivalent to around 400 million cans of Guinness and pre-mixed Gordon’s and tonic.

The plant is currently at the design, engineering and site selection stage.

In establishing a new circular-economy supply chain for aluminum, the consortium will ‘keep the recycling of aluminum in the UK and cement the UK’s position as a leader in the adoption of carbon reduction and manufacturing’, says Diageo.

Ewan Andrew, Global Supply Chain and Procurement & Chief Sustainability Officer at Diageo, said:​ “We are excited to be a part of a project that will ultimately change the production of aluminium in the UK. We are now seeking to work in partnership with business and Government to not only reduce aluminum’s carbon footprint, but also to bring this part of the aluminium supply chain back to the UK.”

Once the plant is up-and running, the recycled aluminum will help Diageo’s sustainability projects by:

  • increasing the use of recycled aluminium with Guinness cans made of 100% recycled material
  • reducing the carbon emissions needed to export and import aluminium sheet
  • reducing the dependency on raw materials needed to create aluminium
  • contributing to a reduction in Diageo’s Scope 3 carbon emissions, as the plant will use 95% less energy in the production of its aluminum sheet versus traditional prime production methods

Diageo has been working with BACALL since 2021 when Diageo jointly funded a feasibility study with the UK Government (via Innovate UK) into whether and how a large-scale circular economy strategy could be adopted across the aluminium sector tailored to the UK.

David Sneddon, non-executive Director of BACALL Aluminum Ltd commented: “Aluminium is one of the most recyclable materials on the planet – yet the 15 billion plus cans made in the UK rely on an energy-intensive supply chain, that requires aluminum to be brought in and out of the country.

“By sourcing, recycling, manufacturing and supplying aluminum flat rolled sheet in the UK, we can localize and close the supply chain, providing substantial reductions in carbon emissions. This will help create a more sustainable aluminum industry and will secure the future capacity of ultra-low carbon alloys.”

Geoff Scamans, Professor of Metallurgy at Brunel University added: “Aluminium has the potential to be zero carbon, but the entire supply chain needs to see a dramatic reduction in emissions. The UK currently exports much of its aluminium scrap, yet at the same time, imports nearly all aluminium sheet. By changing this, we should see a significant carbon footprint reduction.”

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