Recycling Metal Packaging

Metal packaging from the blue PMD bag is recycled into steel or aluminum that is ready to be used in new objects. This can be new packaging, but also electrical appliances, car parts or bicycles.

How is metal packaging recycled?

  • Steel is sorted using magnets. Aluminum, on the other hand, is separated with a so-called eddy current separator. This means that the aluminum is given a specific magnetic charge and when it ends up in a magnetic field, it is rejected and thus separated from the steel.
  • Steel and Aluminum are ground and cleaned to make scrap metal that is ready to go into a melting furnace. Steel goes to the steel mill while aluminum goes to specialized forges.

  • Steel is then usually added to pig iron in the blast furnace at a ratio of 40%. Steel mills with induction furnaces melt the steel so that up to 100% can be recycled without having to add pig iron. Aluminum is melted in special furnaces.

  • Steel and Aluminum are then poured into molds, ready to be used to make new products. Steel is poured into bars or cylinders and aluminum into ingots.

  • The metal is processed further into semi-finished products that are used in a very wide range of applications in the transport, building and packaging industries.

Watch the video about the recycling of metal packaging: Dutch version


What are the recycled materials used for?

Metal packaging in the PMD bag consists mainly of steel and aluminum:

  • Recycled steel can be found everywhere, from razor blades and steel beams for skyscrapers to coffee machines. Many types of packaging are also made of steel: tin cans, beverage cans and biscuit tins in the food industry, spray cans for deodorant and industrial barrels and containers for liquids. Recycled steel is also found in somewhat unexpected products, such as medical equipment.
  • Recycled aluminum is very popular with the food industry: beverage cans, dishes for prepared meals and spray cans. Aluminum is also used in the building industry, for example in window profiles. The material also plays an important role in the manufacturing industry, with aluminum often being used in car parts and electrical household appliances, as well as to make metallic pigments in paint.

Why recycle metal packaging?

Most importantly because it helps us conserve natural resources. Steel is a raw material that can be recycled endlessly, without any loss of quality. It is produced using coke and iron ore. Aluminum production, on the other hand, requires bauxite. Recycling saves an enormous amount of energy: recycling steel requires up to 85% less energy than producing it. For recycled aluminum, this number increases to 95%! Less energy consumption means lower CO2 emissions, and that is a good thing for slowing climate change.

Dos and don'ts

Do not put packaging containing toxic or corrosive products in the PMD bag. They are dangerous for both the people and the machines at the recycling and sorting centers.

Sorting correctly is important!

And that is why we are also counting on you. Consult the sorting rules for PMD.

More information?

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