Paper Recycling Conference: A Growing Thirst

Traditional paper packers may want to consider adding aluminum cans to the materials they accept, as aluminum producers are thirsting for more supply.

October 14, 2012
Recycling Today Staff
As a leading rolled aluminum products provider, Atlanta-based Novelis is thirsting for more aluminum scrap. By 2020, the company would like scrap to make up 80 percent of its raw material, said Silverio Colalancia, director of recycling for Novelis North America. 
Colalancia addressed attendees of the 2012 Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show at a session titled “A Thirst for Aluminum,” Sunday, Oct. 14. He was joined by Joel Litman, president and co-owner of Texas Recycling/Surplus, Dallas, who pointed out many of the similarities between handling recovered paper and used beverage cans (UBCs). 
Colalancia said that Novelis’ use of aluminum scrap grew from 33 to 39 percent in 2012 and that UBCs currently account for two-thirds of the company’s scrap stream. By 2015, Novelis would like scrap to comprise 50 percent of its raw material infeed. He said awareness, partnership and education will be key in achieving these goals, because, while 70 percent of U.S. households have access to recycling, only 50 percent are recycling. 
He predicted growing consumption of finished aluminum from 2010 to 2015, including 25 percent growth in the automotive market as auto makers strive to reach new fuel economy standards.
Litman's presentation focused on the ease with which a traditional paper recycler could expand into collecting and processing UBCs.  
He stressed that cans are “separate but equal” from paper and share a number of key characteristics. He said they are both commodities that are subject to the forces of supply and demand. Additionally, they share collection, material handling and recovery processes. Consumers of both materials also are concerned about the quality.
Moisture is an issue that affects the quality of recovered paper as well as that of UBCs, Litman said, and moisture deductions can be common. Therefore, he suggested recyclers encourage their clients to completely empty their UBCs prior to recycling. 
Litman added that traditional paper packers consider adding UBCs to the materials they accept to diversify their businesses. Additionally, UBCs are not subject to the same metals theft regulations that may affect other scrap metals, making aluminum cans one of the easiest commodities to collect and sell. 
The Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show was from Oct. 14-16 at the Marriott Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago.