European can recycling programme expands into US

Person approaching from behind to put can into branded 'Every can counts' recycling backpack, being worn by another.

Making its debut at the world-famous Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, a pioneering recycling campaign has expanded its operations into the United States, working to keep aluminium drinks can out of landfill.

Every Can Counts, the leading awareness programme for drink can recycling, has announced the launch of its United States chapter. This new move represents a significant extension to the organisation’s global reach and follows closely after its expansion into the United Arab Emirates during COP28 in Dubai.

Now with 21 chapters worldwide, the programme’s shared mission is to inspire and empower people to recycle aluminium drink cans, especially when they are on the go and away from home.

Partnership between producers and suppliers

Every Can Counts US is a partnership between a group of four aluminium drink can manufacturers — Ardagh Metal Packaging, CANPACK, Crown Holdings and Envases — and a further four aluminium suppliers — Constellium, Kaiser Aluminum, Novelis and Tri-Arrows Aluminum.

The new chapter’s vision is to significantly increase the amount of aluminium drink cans collected and recycled in the United States with a focus on away-from-home drink can collection.

These efforts are part of a multi-pronged strategy to make progress toward the ambitious US aluminium drink can recycling rate targets set by Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) members. These targets include going from the current 45% U.S. aluminium drink can recycling rate to a 70% recycling rate by 2030.

Working together towards targets is key, says David Van Heuverswyn, Director of Every Can Counts Global:

“I am delighted Every Can Counts has launched in the USA. thanks to a new partnership between the aluminium industry and local drink can producers. We are fully committed and ready to make a positive change in the USA.”

While the chapter’s primary focus will be to partner with more organisers and venues to make recycling aluminium drink cans easier at festivals and events, it will also leverage social media to educate people about the benefits of recycling and inspire them to make more sustainable choices.

The positives from recycling are ongoing, adds Scott Breen, CMI Senior Vice President of Sustainability:

“We’re excited to use the innovative engagement tactics from Every Can Counts at venues to keep drink cans out of landfills. This generates significant environmental and economic benefits over and over since metal recycles forever.”

Recycling on parade at Mardi Gras 2024

To kick-start its away-from-home recycling efforts, Every Can Counts US joined the City of New Orleans and local organisations in the Recycle Dat initiative to make the 2024 Mardi Gras parades more sustainable.

The hope is that this year’s initiative will surpass the 1,475 pounds of drink cans (nearly 150,000 individual cans) recycled for 2023, both collected along the parade route and sold to a local metal recycling facility.

Recycle Dat supported local efforts to increase the amount of recycled cans by adding Recycling Hubs and Can-Only Receptacles for the 2024 Mardi Gras parade season. Moreover, volunteers were equipped with Every Can Counts recycling backpacks, where parade-goers can directly insert their drink cans for recycling.

Every Can Counts US then agreed to take all the collected empty drink cans to a central recycling facility that regularly purchases used drink cans. The new US chapter also committed to doubling the market rate payout up to the first $5,000 and giving the proceeds to three local charities.

Besides this collection along the parade route, Every Can Counts US also encouraged New Orleans community members to bring their used aluminium drink cans to the recycling facility to earn cash.

Community members could either get a personal cheque for the value of their empty drink cans (plus the doubling), or have the money go to the three local charities.

To reward recyclers, Every Can Counts US ran a Mardi Gras Instagram contest with daily gift-card giveaways for a local New Orleans brewery, plus a $200 grand prize for use at a local sustainability-minded restaurant.

21 countries and counting…

Established in 2009 in the UK, the Every Can Counts initiative is the leading programme to promote drink can recycling across Europe and beyond. It aims to inspire, encourage and empower consumers to make a difference by recycling their drink cans wherever they are – at home, at the office or anywhere on the go, from parks, festivals, and sporting events to schools and universities.

Today, the initiative is present in 18 European countries, plus Brazil, the UAE and the USA. The latest updates on upcoming events and news from the new US chapter can best be followed on its dedicated Instagram and Facebook social media accounts.

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