Your recycling and what happens to it


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Recycling benefit

Amount recycled
CO2 avoided
Disposal saving

Metals make up a significant portion of recycled material in the UK, with most kinds of metal able to be used again, although with varying quality. Some metals are recycled more than others, aluminium and steel being the most common.

Aluminium recycling is one of the most well-known and visible forms of recycling in the UK: around 72 per cent of the 9 billion aluminium cans used in the UK every year are recycled annually. One tonne of recycled aluminium saves the amount of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) emissions produced by driving 27,000 miles.

The most common use for recycled aluminium is to make packaging, especially cans, for the food and drink industry, but it can also be used for household items and vehicles like bikes or cars.

Steel is 100 per cent recyclable and widely recycled in the UK; steel recycled in the building and demolition sector reached 92 per cent in 2012, while over 2.5 billion steel cans are recycled every year.

Vehicles, domestic appliance components, heavy machinery and construction materials are all possible destinations for recycled steel.

Metals are collected from the kerbside and can banks before being taken to be shredded and melted down into large ingots, which are then rolled into long sheets for onward processing. It is important to make sure all metal is free from contamination to ensure that the recycled material gets turned into a shiny, new product.

You can learn more about how to recycle metal food and drinks cans on the Recycle Now website.

Where does metal recycling go?

All countries (selected materials) - 2022/23

Top UK recycling destinations

Country Tonnes
England 3,630t
Northern Ireland 2,464t
Wales 1,418t
Scotland 581t
Company Country Tonnes
Tandom Metallurgical Group Ltd England 1,986t
Celsa Manufacturing UK Ltd Wales 1,234t
Morris and Co (Handlers) Ltd England 1,210t
McKenzies (NI) Ltd Northern Ireland 793t
European Metal Recycling Ltd Scotland 538t
T-Met Ltd Northern Ireland 470t
Clearway Disposal Ltd Northern Ireland 439t
Clearway Disposals Ltd Northern Ireland 239t
Seaforde Scrap Metals Northern Ireland 219t
Other/Exempt England 191t
AMG Resources Ltd Wales 162t
Rooney Metals Ltd Northern Ireland 108t