Unwashed cans cause stink at Newhaven metal facility

European Metal Recycling has been ordered to produce an odour management plan to address the issue

Unwashed cans have caused a stink at a metal recycling facility in Newhaven, which has been ordered to submit an odour management plan to address the problem.

Large tonnages of scrap metal are often exported from the port in Newhaven, East Sussex

Large tonnages of scrap metal are often exported from the port in Newhaven, East Sussex

The Environment Agency this week confirmed European Metal Recycling (EMR) is putting together an odour plan for its North Quay facility in the East Sussex port town following reports of ‘unwashed cans’ at the site.

The plant accepts ferrous and non-ferrous metals from a range of sources, offering ‘highly competitive prices’ even in low volumes, according to EMR’s website.

It is unclear how long the cans have been stored at the site and whether this is a factor behind the odour problem.

Steel cans, which predominantly arise from the domestic waste stream, can often contain residues of food that have not been rinsed out when put out for recycling.

When contacted by, European Metal Recycling was not available for a comment on the Newhaven problem.


Looking at the wider issue of odours at metal recycling sites, Ian Hetherington, director general of the British Metal Recycling Association, told that incidences of odour at the sites were rare but not unheard of, particularly during the height of summer.

He said: “There clearly can be odour emitting from unwashed cans. This of course something that can happen in any operation and is something that has to be managed, but it’s not normally something that causes problems in the metals recycling sector.

“Any food packaging is a potential source of odour but it’s typically something to manage within the confines of a site. Frequently our members receive cans in a baled form so the option to wash them is no longer an option.”


Mr Hetherington added that BMRA is assembling an educational campaign with the charity organisation the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to remind householders to rinse their cans before dropping them into recycling bins.

Mr Hetherington said: “We are working with WRAP to raise awareness among householders to rinse their cans. If they are a bit more careful with rinsing then these problems will not occur.”


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