Recycling Facility Testing Shows Strong Opportunities to Capture Cans for Revenue Generation and Recycling
WASHINGTON, DC — As part of a concerted effort to increase aluminum beverage can recycling, Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP) and Crown Holdings (Crown), working with its trade organization Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), are providing financing for leases of can capture equipment for recycling facilities. While continuing to offer grants as the two aluminum can manufacturers funded last year, the lease option allows material recovery facilities (MRFs) to receive equipment at no cost and pay it off through the additional cans captured with the equipment.
“CMI modeling finds that if all of the more than 350 MRFs sorting residential recyclables across the United States had perfect sortation of used beverage cans (UBC), 3.5 billion cans could potentially be captured,” said Jennifer Cumbee, chief sustainability officer at AMP. “We are committed to continuing to activate additional can capture equipment in MRFs as part of our industry’s effort to build on our industry-leading recycling and recycled content rates, further strengthening the beverage can as the ideal sustainability choice for our customers.”
To substantiate the economic and environmental impact of additional can capture equipment, AMP and Crown funded in-person testing at three MRFs that showed significant opportunities for capturing missorted cans. The testing focused on five points across the three MRFs where cans tend to be missorted. Those five points averaged between seven and 36 aluminum UBCs missorted every minute.
The testing is part of a growing initiative to motivate installation of can capture equipment in MRFs. In addition to the testing program, CMI also today released online two additional resources for MRFs to determine the benefits of additional can capture equipment. One is an easy-to-use return on investment (ROI) calculator to determine the ROI from installing additional can capture equipment. The other is a companion playbook that explains how to test levels of can missortation and then plug the data collected into the ROI calculator.
“This initiative is designed to add data from the field, produce useful tools and develop new case studies of MRFs using the revenue from the cans captured from the equipment to pay for its cost,” said John Rost, vice president of global sustainability & regulatory affairs at Crown. “With these new proof points and tools, the goal is to spur recycling facilities around the country to choose to invest their own capital in capturing more UBCs, often the most valuable commodity flowing through MRFs.”
The recycling consultant Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) conducted the testing on behalf of CMI in March and April 2022 at three MRFs that vary in modernization level and geographic location. The testing results illustrate the impressive ability of revenue from captured cans to pay for investments in can capture equipment. While actual revenue generation may be different for individual MRFs depending upon local factors, the average annual revenue loss from beverage cans per loss point according to the testing results was $71,940 using a five-year average of UBC scrap prices. At this revenue level, it will only take on average three years of accumulated revenue from the cans captured at one of these loss points to equal the cost to acquire, install and operate additional equipment at a loss point that ensures the cans are captured.
“A lease where the material captured pays for the equipment is uniquely suited for aluminum beverage cans because UBCs are one of the most valuable commodities in the recycling system,” said CMI Vice President of Sustainability Scott Breen. “The plan is to use the money paid back on the loans to finance equipment at other MRFs.”
If the three MRFs were to install additional equipment that captured all the cans at the points tested, the data taken from the three facilities show nearly 22 million more UBCs would be captured each year. CMI has an aluminum beverage can recycling impact calculator at canrecyclingimpact.com that shows recycling 22 million UBCs would generate more than $350,000 for the recycling system and enough energy savings to power nearly 1,000 U.S. homes for a full year.
Capturing cans from MRFs is one of the four pillars of action CMI has stated will be key to reaching its aluminum beverage can recycling rate targets. Last year, AMP and Crown funded five grants through a program in partnership with The Recycling Partnership that went toward purchasing can capture equipment in MRFs that will collectively result in 71 million aluminum beverage cans captured per year.
MRF operators interested in having testing done at their facility or financing options from CMI should reach out to CMI’s Scott Breen at email@example.com. The free ROI calculator, the playbook and more on the efforts of AMP and Crown through CMI to stimulate additional can capture equipment in MRFs can be found at cancentral.com/cansdriverecycling.
About Can Manufacturers Institute: The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) is the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States. The can industry accounts for the annual domestic production of approximately 130.7 billion food, beverage and general line cans; employs more than 28,000 people with plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa; and generates about $15.7 billion in direct economic activity. CMI members are committed to providing safe, nutritious and refreshing canned food and beverages to consumers in the most sustainable packaging.