Collecting aluminium saves energy: 95 % less energy is required to produce packaging from recycled aluminium than from new material. Aluminium packaging can be disposed of at communal collection points. Fashionable coffee pods are accepted by retail outlets and communal collection points.
Aluminium packaging is in demand. Since the year 2000, the volume in circulation has increased more than fourfold, and this trend continues. Be it in the form of a container, can or foil, the soft and light metal provides light-proof, airtight and odour-tight packaging for solid and liquid foodstuffs. Another characteristic of the shiny silver metal is that it can be recycled any number of times without impairing its quality.
The extraction of aluminium from the raw material bauxite is very energy-intensive. Energy savings of up to 95 % can be achieved by replacing new aluminium with recycled aluminium. Thus the separate collection and recycling of aluminium packaging from households makes particular sense from the perspectives of energy saving and resource conservation.
For many years, consumers have been collecting over 90 % of the aluminium drinks cans placed on the market and submitting them for material recycling. This currently amounts to 1 kg of aluminium cans per person per year and a further 300 g of other aluminium packaging.
The Ordinance on Beverage Containers (BCO) prescribes a minimum recycling rate of 75 %. If this is not attained, the federal authorities can impose a deposit system. In accordance with the BCO, all traders, manufacturers and importers who sell drinks in metal packaging must take the empty containers back and submit them for recycling. The market participants can transfer this obligation to a recycling organisation. In addition, all market participants are subject to a duty to notify: the BCO (Art. 18 and 19) stipulates that the weight of beverage containers, including imports and exports, placed on the market and taken back must be notified. These legal requirements only apply to beverage containers, i.e. in this case aluminium beverage cans.
In many communes, waste aluminium cans can be disposed of in collection containers. Other types of aluminium packaging, for example, pet food containers, aluminium tubes and other household aluminium products, can be disposed of in these containers.
Coffee pods, in contrast, are collected separately from other types of aluminium packaging. Special collection containers are provided for them at many public communal collection points. Pods are also accepted in specialist shops, selected electrical goods stores and numerous regional recycling operations. Note: not all pods are made of aluminium. Plastic pods must be disposed of with household waste.
The website of the recycling organisations provides a map indicating the locations of collection points. A smart phone app is also available.
The collected aluminium is sorted, cleaned and then remelted. This process does not cause any impairment of its quality: recycled cans can be used to produce new cans or other products; recycled aluminium foil and plate can be used to make new rolled products.
The IGORA-Genossenschaft aluminium recycling cooperative organises the financing of aluminium collection and recycling based on a voluntary sectoral solution. It levies a prepaid disposal fee on beverage cans, pet food containers and food-product tubes. It uses the proceeds of this fee to pay collectors, e.g. communes, waste processing centres and private actors, and for public relations work.
The collection of beverage cans should be made even easier. A more dense network of collection points and motivation campaigns will contribute to increasing the rate of return and reduction of littering.
Report of imported or exported beverage containers for recycling (PDF, 236 kB, 18.12.2020)(in German, French and Italian)
Ökobilanz Getränkeverpackungen (PDF, 2 MB, 10.09.2014)Study commissioned by the FOEN, in German with summary in English, French and Italian
Last modification 18.12.2020