Every Can Counts!

How to Make Money for Your Community Garden

At a recent Community Garden Network meeting in Ballymun we were introduced to Karen Mahon from the Every Can Counts Campaign who shared some compelling arguments why we should all be recycling our aluminium drink cans, and how doing so could earn money for our community gardens.

As a result Alupro Ireland have agreed to work with any community gardens within the Community Garden Network (CGN), interested in collecting cans for recycling.

If you’re trying to raise funds for your projects, have noticed how many drink cans are thrown in the rubbish bin in your workplace, or are concerned about your carbon footprint and how you can help to reduce it, read on, but first some facts and figures that explain why this campaign is so important.


  • Only 35% of Irish people admit to regularly recycling their used drinks cans in work whilst 73% recycle them regularly at home
  • Irish Can recycling rate circa 50%, mostly collected through kerbside and bring collection systems
  • Aluminium Drinks cans recycled can be back on the shelves in 60 days, they are infinitely recyclable
  • Recycling a used aluminium drinks can saves 95% of energy it takes to make one from original raw materials
  • Every Can Counts is targeting  on the go consumption circa 33% of drinks cans consumed outside of the home, hoping to improve our recycling behaviour

How to make money for your community with Every Can Counts

Every Can Counts is an exciting awareness campaign aimed at increasing the number of recycled drinks cans out of the home, it is funded by Alupro Ireland’s founding partners the European Aluminium Association (EAA) in partnership with the Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME).  Every Can Counts is now successfully operating in nine EU countries including the UK, France, Austria, Spain and Ireland. The Every Can Counts programme targets behavioural change.

Every Can Counts

Approximately 500 million drinks cans are placed onto the Irish market every year, the majority of which are made from aluminium. Aluminium is an endlessly recyclable material taking just 60 days to be recycled and back on sale as a drinks can again, so it makes sense to recycle it, whenever and wherever possible. The drinks can producers and recyclers are committed to make Every Can Count towards a sustainable future!

You can, can you?

Approximately 33% of drinks cans are consumed ‘on the go’ or away from home and it is clear that many are potentially lost to existing recycling collections systems, as what we do at home is not continued in the workplace and while ‘on the go’. Recent research undertaken by Repak revealed a huge gap between the recycling rate of drinks cans in the home and the workplace, suggesting that people sidestep their responsibility to recycle when outside the home. Over 73% of people claim to recycle used drinks cans at home regularly, while this falls to just 35% in the workplace and ‘on the go’.

How to Make Money in Your Community with Every Can CountsEvery Can Counts in the Workplace

Every Can Counts provides branded materials; Branded bins, clear plastic bags and an information pack as well as other ECC branded materials, many of them free, to help kick-start any drinks can recycling campaign that companies, universities or community groups would like to run.

To participate in the program users simply register their interest on-line at www.everycancounts.ie and they will be contacted by an Alupro Ireland representative. Every Can Counts aims to support people to help get their programme started and with the aid of ‘recycling champions’ within companies, on campuses and in community groups, we aim to drive ECC forward together.

It is interesting to see just how much energy people could be saving by recycling their drinks cans; if for example an office of 50 people, drinking 5 cans per month, recycled each can over a year, this would total a massive 3000 cans which would, save enough energy to:

  • Run a TV for 350 days
  • Run a desktop PC for 338 days
  • Power an 11w lightbulb for 2600 days or;
  • Keep an office fan going for 100 days

Karen Mahon, Director of Alupro Ireland said:

“‘Every Can Counts can contribute to lasting behavioural change by providing a branded can collection infrastructure reinforced by a strong communications programme. Every Can Counts is flexible and works well with existing recycling facilities or as a standalone programme. As every drinks can is infinitely recyclable without loss of quality, capturing cans used in workplaces and at ‘on the go’ locations such as at college and events can make a considerable contribution towards the environmental goals of the businesses and organisations involved.”

How to Make Money in Your Community with Every Can CountsEvery Can Counts in Community Gardens

Every Can Counts began working with community gardens in the Dublin region – with the Dublin Community Growers (DCG) in 2013, supporting the DGC at Bloom, the Rose Festival and the Harvest Festival- culminating with the opening of the Growing Closer project in NCAD in 2015. In 2014, we moved on from the incredible work done by Tony Lowth (DCG) and NCAD SU, at NCAD to working with the community growers across Dublin interested in collecting cans on their sites, most notably Serenity Gardens.

The cans have a value and are endlessly recyclable – it makes sense to keep them in the value chain and recycle them, whilst at the same time providing a benefit to the garden.

Using the cans as a commodity, community gardens have a valuable resource. If cans are collected in large amounts in a safe designated site, with the Local Authority approval and do not provide a nuisance or menace to the public – they may be traded for cash or in the case of community gardens they may prefer swapping their collected cans for compost. 

This idea fundamentally underpins the circular economy ideology and keeps the resource in continual flow. Alupro Ireland would like to see as many gardens getting involved with Every Can Counts and welcomes the joint initiative with CGN, with the potential to make substantial contribution to local communities, both environmentally and economically – by making Every Can Count!

For more information, contact Every Can Counts directly. You can download a poster here with some facts and figures that may help to convince your friends and colleagues, or a getting started poster by clicking the image below.

How to Make Money for Your Community Garden - Every Can Counts

Best of luck and keep us posted how you get on! For more information and news about community gardens and associated initiatives in Ireland and Northern Ireland, sign up for our blog.

Photo Credits: Every Can Counts




Launch of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan

The Community Garden Network are pleased to be one of the 68 organisations involved in helping community gardeners become pollinator friendly as the new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is launched by the Biodiversity Centre today.

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan

We’ve agreed to share a plan of action with community gardens that will help to tackle pollinator decline and make Ireland a place where pollinators can survive and thrive.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 makes Ireland one of the first countries in Europe with a strategy to address pollinator decline and protect pollination services. The initiative has generated huge support and has culminated in agreement to deliver 81 actions to make Ireland more pollinator friendly.

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan
Credit: biodiversityireland.ie

The Plan identifies actions that can be taken on farmland, public land and private land. These include creating pollinator highways along our transport routes, making our public parks pollinator friendly and encouraging the public to see their gardens as potential pit-stops for our busy bees.

Raising Awareness

It is also about raising awareness on pollinators and how to protect them. With the support of organisations like An Taisce Green-Schools it aims to ensure that everyone from schoolchildren to farmers, gardeners, local authorities and businesses know what pollinators need and which simple cost-effective actions they can take to help. The Plan will also support Ireland’s bee keepers in keeping our honeybees healthy.

“Unfortunately, Irish pollinators are in decline, with one third of our 98 bee species threatened with extinction,” said Dr Úna FitzPatrick from the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who chaired the Plan steering group.

Dr Jane Stout, Associate Professor in Botany at Trinity College Dublin, who co-chaired the group, added:

“If we want pollinators to be available to pollinate our crops and wild plants for future generations we need to manage the landscape in a more sustainable way and create a joined-up network of diverse and flower rich habitats as well as reduce our use of chemical insecticides. This doesn’t just mean in the countryside, but in our towns and villages as well.”

Protecting Livelihoods

The Pollinator Plan is not just about protecting bees but also about protecting the livelihood of farmers and growers who rely on their ‘free’ pollinator service, which allows consumers to buy Irish fruit and vegetables at an affordable price. This service is worth over £7 million per annum for apples in Northern Ireland, and €3.9 million for oilseed rape in the Republic of Ireland.

All-Ireland Pollinator Plan
Credit: biodiversityireland.ie

Additionally, about three-quarters of our wild plants also require insect pollinators, so without pollinators the Irish landscape would be a very different and less beautiful place. Their value to tourism and branding our produce abroad is enormous but has never been assessed in a monetary sense.

Responsibility for delivering the 81 actions has been shared out between the supporting organisations, which include the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Teagasc, Bord Bía, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Heritage Council, Fáilte Ireland, An Taisce Green Schools, Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations, Iarnród Éireann, National Trust, RSPB, Tidy Towns, Transport NI, Ulster Farmers’ Union, Ulster Wildlife and Waterways Ireland.

The Pollinator Plan

The full Pollinator Plan can be downloaded at bidiversityireland.ie and by the spring of 2016 the site will be fully developed to provide all necessary information and facilitate implementation.

To keep up-to-date, please sign up for the Community Garden Network newsletter and we will email suggestions on how community gardens can help save the pollinators.