During the last three years, 87,000 Norwegian children from schools and daycare centers collected nearly 30 million used tea lights for recycling, thereby saving the environment from 170 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
This is a staggering amount for the children who have participated in Tea Light Hunt, but according to Hydro's plant manager at the rolling mill in Holmestrand, Kjetil Ebbesberg, the children will have a much bigger impact in the long term.
"In the big scheme of things, tea lights do not contain huge amounts of aluminium. Although 30 million tea lights is a lot for kids to collect, 20 tonnes of aluminium is a small proportion of Holmestrand's annual production of 100,000 tonnes. So the big impact from this campaign is the awareness it has created among children who will be tomorrow's adults and how they have encouraged the adults around them to recycle more."
Ebbesberg unveiled the results of this year's school campaign at the European Aluminium Association's annual packaging seminar in Helsinki. The seminar brought together the aluminium industry to discuss innovative recycling projects and campaigns that can increase understanding in society of the importance of and potential for recycling. Tea Light Hunt was highlighted as a particularly successful campaign. Hydro wants to engage in similar campaigns in the future.
Increased climate awareness
According to opinion polls, the children managed to change the attitudes of many in Norway. Among Norwegians who recycle tea light cups, one in five say they have learned to do this from children who participated in Tea Light Hunt.
It is this increasing climate awareness and the global need to save energy that are driving the growth in recycling. According to estimates, the next ten years will see a 75 percent increase in the recycling of aluminium."Tea lights are something you often think cannot be recycled. Once you are aware that they can be, you might become more conscious of recycling all products made of aluminium," says Ebbesberg.
"For Hydro, recycling is not customer-driven yet. Today it is driven more by Hydro's sense of environmental responsibility, cost reduction goals and our desire to position ourselves in this market so we are ready in the future when customers demand more recycled aluminium," says Ebbesberg.
Want more consumer scrap
In recent years Hydro has invested both in Norway and Germany to succeed in its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2020. This will require, among other things, a doubling of the company's total recycling capacity.
At the aluminium plant in Neuss in Germany, a new recycling line for used beverage cans will be ready by the end of 2015. In Norway, Hydro has signed an agreement with Norsk Resirk to move the recycling of all aluminium cans returned in Norway from France to the recycling plant in Holmestrand.
"It is important that the cans are being recycled, but now the resulting scrap will travel a much shorter distance. We will save the environment from 500 000 kilometers of truck transport after January 1 this year when the cans are sent to Holmestrand from collection sites in Norway instead of to France," says Ebbesberg.
For Hydro it is important not to squander the opportunity to save energy, and Hydro's new recycling strategy includes an intensified hunt for consumer scrap - even from little tea lights.
"We of course produce many of the tea light cups, including all those sold by IKEA in Norway and collected in the Tea Light Hunt. So Hydro has a connection with Tea Light Hunt from beginning to end."