Increasing numbers of food and beverage companies are creating goals around recyclability, recycled content, recycling rates and carbon emissions. Metal cans help companies meet all these goals.
- Recyclability: Because of the relatively high value of metal cans, all recycling systems across the United States accept cans. They are also easy to separate out from the rest of the single stream recycling system because the magnets separating out the steel and the eddy currents separating out the aluminum are close to 100 percent effective.
- Recycled Content: The average U.S. aluminum beverage can has 73 percent recycled content. Steel food cans incorporate up to 35 percent recycled content with today’s technology and because steel is open loop, all steel collected can easily be incorporated into any steel product.
- Increased Recycling of Packaging: Due to its wide acceptance, easiness to separate and ready incorporation into other products, metal cans have the highest recycling rate in the United States among all food and beverage containers.
- Reduced Carbon Emissions: Steel food and aluminum beverage cans have life cycle analyses showing decreasing carbon footprints over time. When you recycle metal cans, significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are achieved relative to making cans with virgin metal. A recent comparative LCA found aluminum beverage cans have a comparable or better carbon footprint than competitor material types and that’s with a traditional LCA, which doesn’t take into account the multiple cycles that metal is capable of since metal recycles forever. Further, all of the leading aluminum beverage can manufacturers have set or have committed to setting science-based targets (e.g., Ardagh and Crown). All of the leading aluminum beverage can manufacturers also earned a spot on CDP’s Supplier Engagement Rating Leaderboard, which recognizes the companies that receive the highest ratings in its evaluation of corporate supply chain engagement on climate issues. CDP is a not-for-profit global disclosure system used for environmental reporting.
Increasing numbers of food and beverage brands and product categories are shifting to metal cans because they satisfy consumer demands for sustainable packaging and help to meet corporate sustainability goals. Beverage cans have seen significant increases in sales over the past several years, taking market share in part due to sustainability attributes in craft beer, wine, kombucha, hard seltzer, ready-to-go cocktails and other emerging beverage categories.