More than four out of five drink cans sold in the UK in 2020 were recycled, a record high, as nationwide lockdowns made it easier for people to recycle.

According to data published by the Environment Agency (EA), 151,515 tonnes of aluminium packaging was collected from UK households and recycled – more than any other year on record. The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, which runs the Every Can Counts UK programme, has calculated recycling rates for aluminium packaging, based on the Environment Agency’s figures. 68% of all aluminium packaging used – including drink cans, food packaging, aerosols, and take-away containers – was recycled last year, up from 56% in 2019 (+12% year-on-year).

When looking at aluminium drink cans specifically, 82% of those sold were recycled in 2020, compared with 76% in 2019. This equates to a 6% year-on-year increase, and a 28% increase since 2010, when the UK’s drink can recycling rate was just 54%. As lockdown restrictions ease and more food and drink is consumed on-the-go in public places, Every Can Counts is calling on people to continue to dispose of their empty drink cans responsibly, no matter where they are.

Chris Latham-Warde, Programme Manager for Every Can Counts, said:

“Last year’s recycling rates are really promising. The record-breaking 82% rate for drink cans is a fantastic step forwards on our journey towards 100%.

“With the UK now opening back up, we need to make sure that this great progress isn’t undone. Recent pictures of littering in public parks suggests more still needs to be done to inspire positive behaviour change, and also to improve out-of-home recycling facilities. Every Can Counts is continuing to work in partnership with local authorities, businesses and organisations to address these issues.

“Drink cans are infinitely recyclable, meaning they can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. All the work we do aims to encourage recycling so that, ultimately, each and every drink can within the UK is recycled.”

Drink cans are currently the UK’s most recycled beverage container and can be recycled, filled and back on a shop shelf in just 60 days, thanks to the efficient recycling infrastructure in place across Europe.


Bristol-based customer support specialist Subfero has been presented with an Every Can Counts Green Can Award. The Green Can Award scheme recognises businesses who have gone above and beyond to improve drink can recycling infrastructure and increase organisational engagement rates.

The judges were impressed with Subfero’s sustainability initiative, which included the appointment of two recycling champions, implementation of beverage can collection points around the office and coordination of a fun recycling-themed event for staff members.

Alongside a green fancy dress code, the event saw team members from the company’s Bristol site ‘shoot some hoops’, with points awarded for throwing beverage cans through a basketball hoop into an Every Can Counts-branded recycling bin. Team members also submitted their entries to a can-related pun competition throughout the day, before the event culminated in a Subfero Can-Can dance.

Megan Goswell, head of people at Subfero, commented: “We are extremely proud to be presented with a Green Can Award for our recycling efforts. At Subfero, we are passionate about reducing our environmental footprint and always look for new and engaging ways to do this. “To help increase beverage can recycling rates in the office, we knew we needed to do something a little different. Our special staff event blended fun activities with serious recycling messaging to help raise awareness of the benefits of recycling among the team.

“It was a fantastic way to have a bit of fun, but at the same time remind everyone about the benefits of recycling drinks cans.” Megan continued. “We are really excited to continue our commitment to the environment and recycling, and we can’t wait to introduce even more creative initiatives to highlight the Every Can Counts message in the future.”

Chris Latham-Warde, programme manager at Every Can Counts UK, comments: “We’ve been really impressed by Subfero’s recycling programme along with their creative approach to engaging employees and are pleased to be recognising their efforts with this award. Research conducted by Every Can Counts last year found that only 43% of Brits often or always recycle when at work, so we hope Subfero’s activities will inspire others to promote recycling in the workplace too – while having some fun at the same time!”

For more information about Subfero and their recycling activities, visit

Want to help us shine a spotlight on those going the extra mile to encourage recycling? Submit an application for a Green Can Award and let’s recognise the people, businesses and organisations that are making their cans count! Click here to learn more about the Green Can Awards and apply online.


Read our Winter 2020 newsletter to see how we’ve continued to inspire and encourage people to recycle their drink cans over the past 6 months, despite the ongoing challenges we faced in 2020.

Read CanMail Winter 2020 online here: CanMail Winter 2020 by Alupro – issuu