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Aluminium is relatively unique in being highly economic to recycle. Metal can be reclaimed and refined for further use at an energy cost of only 5 per cent of that required to produce the same quantity of aluminium from its ore. There has been a healthy secondary metal industry for many years and as refining techniques improve the use that can be made of reclaimed aluminium will increase from its present usage in Europe of 40% of all metal currently processed.

The most dramatic example of recycled metal is in the United States . In the USA of the one million tonnes of aluminium sheet used annually for beer and beverage cans, over 50% is supplied from used can scrap. Europe is now following this example with the building of dedicated aluminium can recycling plants.