Cubed blocks of aluminium, stacked.

Can all aluminium be recycled?

We’ve lifted the lid on what recycled aluminium is and what happens to it, including recycled aluminium cans, and we’ve looked into how many times aluminium can be recycled, but we haven’t explored what can and can’t be recycled…

…until now.

So, can all aluminium be recycled? 

Yes, yes and yes. It’s the reason why aluminium is recycling’s best friend. Because every single bit of it can be recycled. And, it gets ever better, it can be recycled time-and-time again.

Aluminium is essentially the metal that keeps on giving.

Old window frames can be recycled to make new window frames and used UBC cans can be recycled to make new drinks cans that can be refilled and be back on the shelves within a couple of months. 

In fact, the environmental profile of UBC cans is so impressive, they have increasingly become the preferred packaging material of choice for numerous sustainability-focused drinks manufacturers, including the likes of Coca-Cola, as well as wider planet-conscious companies, such as Marks & Spencer, who unveiled food-to-go water in aluminium bottles at the start of the year.

And it’s not just manufacturers who are becoming more switched on to the benefits of aluminium packaging. According to research carried out by the trade body, Can Makers:

  • More than half of UK adults believe cans are the most sustainable type of beverage packaging
  • More than two thirds of UK adults believe cans are more easily recycled than other forms of beverage packaging
  • 48% believe cans help to prevent waste
  • 43% believe cans should be used more for environmental reasons

Given all of this, it may therefore come as no surprise to hear that aluminium packaging recycling volumes are moving in a similar vein to demand for aluminium packaging. Figures published on the National Packaging Waste Database by the Environment Agency revealed that in Q1 of last year, more than 40,000 tonnes of aluminium packaging were collected for recycling – a 14% increase compared to 2022’s volumes.

And from our own company perspective, we’ve experienced an uplift too. We currently handle and recycle 580 tonnes of cans every month, which is the equivalent to around 7,000 tonnes a year. Back in 2022, the figure was around 500 tonnes of cans every month. Next year, we anticipate the figure to increase by around 5 to 10%.

Cubed blocks of aluminium, stacked.

Is aluminium foil recyclable?

Just like aluminium drinks cans, food container trays and tinned food cans, foil can be recycled. This includes scrunched up tin foil. In fact, the bigger the ball, the easier it is to recycle. But if it’s covered in food, grease or other dirt, the foil can’t be recycled because it’s contaminated, so has to go in the bin.

Are aluminium tubes recyclable?

Household aluminium tubes containing beauty products or food cannot be recycled because some of the product will always remain the tubes, no matter how well you squeeze them. However, industrial aluminium tubes, e.g. tubes that can sit under an ice rink using liquid refrigeration can be recycled.

Can anodized aluminium be recycled?

It’s aluminium, so yes, it can. For further details, read, ‘Anodised aluminium: Definition, benefits and more.’

Are lacquered aluminium trays recyclable?

Aluminium trays are typically coated with a colour lacquer to make them look more attractive, but it doesn’t change the core composition of the tray. This means they can be recycled, providing they are clean and not contaminated with food waste or other liquids or substances.

Call us biased, but aluminium is a mighty metal with an even mightier carbon footprint. We’re incredibly proud and passionate about championing the sustainable benefits of aluminium industry-wide while also using our pioneering processes to push the aluminium recycling boundaries and turn the vision for a circular economy into reality.

For more information or to discuss your aluminium recycling requirements with us, email our Commercial Manager, Ed George, at