Is aluminium better than plastic? Is it more eco-friendly? It’s hard to know these days. But one thing is for certain, you need to know some basic facts.
Here’s your 2-minute guide to help you decide whether aluminium really is better than plastic. Also, keep in mind that in order for either of these two materials to be considered eco-friendly, they MUST be recycled or up-cycled in some way.
Aluminium Recycling Facts
- When it comes to metal, aluminium is the world’s second most used material and it’s the third most abundant element we have access to. (It’s important to note that the manufacturing process does produce by-products that are not eco-friendly)
- Recycling aluminium tins saves up to 95% of the energy required to produce aluminium in its unadulterated state. Energy to make 1 New can = Energy to recycle 20 cans. Energy saved is enough to power a TV for three hours. (1)
- 75% of the aluminium ever manufactured is still in use today. (2)
- The recycling rate for aluminium hit 72% in the UK in 2017. (3)
Plastic Recycling Facts
- Plastic is derived from petroleum-chemicals and sometimes plants. The manufacturing process produces by-products that are not eco-friendly. (It’s important to note that the new bio-plastics are not simply biodegradable. They require industrial composting facilities, of which 5% of the UK has access to. Bio-plastics are currently recyclable just like regular plastic).
- The UK generates 2.4 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste per year, and only recycles 1.7 million tonnes.(4) The rest goes to landfill locally or abroad. Some of our plastic has even turned up in undesignated dumping grounds in Malaysia recently.(5)
- In the UK we only recycle around half of the plastic bottles we buy and 12-15% of our mixed plastics (pots, tubs, bags, etc.). (6)
- Many plastics in use today are not recyclable at all. (7)
Ideas For Reducing Your Waste Footprint
- Get into the habit of carrying your own water vessel, so you’re not caught out having to buy plastic bottles.
- Buy more fresh, loose produce and skip the ready-made meals. This will also help improve your health and is cheaper too!
- Keep two bins in your bathroom, so you can easily separate recycling from waste.
- Read our Top 7 strategies for going zero waste.
- Familiarise yourself with packaging that is not recyclable and try to avoid it as much as possible.
- Recycle your beauty packaging and make sure it is rinsed out and the caps are removed first. Recycle droppers by separating the glass stem from the pipette. The stem is recyclable and the pipette is not.
- Consider switching to plastic free packaging altogether.
(1) Recycle More
(2) Think Cans
(4, 6, 7) Wrap