Steel cans

Can recycling has become common practice, but is a complex operation. Steel cans are tinned and lacquered internally to protect the contents. Some steel drinks cans have aluminium ring pulls and beer cans contain plastic widgets. All have an external coating of coloured markings and residues of the contents. Processing involves shredding, material separation and decontamination stages. Iron can be recovered from waste incinerator ash. This iron is not as valuable to the steel industry as that recovered via can-banks. It contains residual tin levels which cannot be further reduced because high temperature incineration alloys the tin with the iron.

Corus has announced that from 3 November 2008, it is to pay £0 a tonne for steel cans delivered to its network of CanRoute collection centres across the UK. The dramatic fall in price came just two weeks after the company slashed prices from £95 a tonne to £10 a tonne as a reflection of increasingly volatile global markets, following a peak of £235 per tonne between May and July 2008. The price cut represents unwelcome news for councils, waste management companies and scrap metal merchants who are struggling during an economic downturn.