Diageo invests in creating circular economy for UK aluminium

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Diageo today announced that it has provided funding to establish the British Aluminium Consortium for Advanced Alloys (BACALL), a collective of industry experts who will create a circular economy for aluminium in the UK. They will build a plant to roll hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aluminium sheet in the UK, more than enough for over 400 million cans of Guinness and pre-mixed Gordon’s and tonic.

Currently, to recycle and remake cans, the UK is reliant on an energy-intensive supply chain that is based on the unsustainable exporting and importing of aluminium.

The consortium will build an advanced aluminium recycling and manufacturing plant, to establish a new circular-economy supply chain for aluminium. This will keep the recycling of aluminium in the UK and cement the UK’s position as a leader in the adoption of carbon reduction and manufacturing.

Once the plant is up-and running, the recycled aluminium will significantly contribute to Diageo’s 10-year sustainability action plan by:

  • increasing the use of recycled aluminium with Guinness cans made of 100 per cent recycled material
  • reducing the carbon emissions needed to export and import aluminium sheet
  • reducing the dependency on raw materials needed to create aluminium
  • contributing to a reduction in Diageo’s Scope 3 carbon emissions, as the plant will use 95 per cent less energy in the production of its aluminium sheet versus traditional prime production methods

Diageo has been working with BACALL since 2021 when Diageo jointly funded a feasibility study with the UK Government (via Innovate UK) into whether and how a large-scale circular economy strategy could be adopted across the aluminium sector tailored to the UK. 

“We are excited to be a part of a project that will ultimately change the production of aluminum in the UK,” said Ewan Andrew, Global Supply Chain and Procurement & Chief Sustainability Officer at Diageo. “We are now seeking to work in partnership with business and Government to not only reduce aluminium’s carbon footprint, but also to bring this part of the aluminium supply chain back to the UK.”

David Sneddon, non-executive Director of BACALL Aluminium Ltd commented: “Aluminium is one of the most recyclable materials on the planet – yet the 15 billion-plus cans made in the UK rely on an energy-intensive supply chain, that requires aluminium to be brought in and out of the country.

“By sourcing, recycling, manufacturing and supplying aluminium flat rolled sheet in the UK, we can localize and close the supply chain, providing substantial reductions in carbon emissions. This will help create a more sustainable aluminium industry and will secure the future capacity of ultra-low carbon alloys.”