Aluminium has a wide range of packaging applications, from beverage cans to food containers, aerosols and tubes. Packaging absorbs 17% of industry output in Europe, making it the third largest sector.
Aluminium beverage cans
The aluminium beverage can is one of the world’s most popular drinks containers. Europeans use up to 50 billion cans every year, drinking mineral water, soft drinks and beer. The aluminium can has become the ‘iconic’ pack for energy drinks.
Due to the aluminium’s total barrier function of, beverage cans retains taste while offering a very long shelf life. It is the perfect packaging for any drink. It is extremely light, stackable, virtually unbreakable and - thanks to fantastic temperature conductivity - drinks can be quickly cooled in a snap and remain cool for longer.
The Aluminium Effect
Reborn in 60 days. It takes only 60 days for a single aluminium can to be produced, filled, distributed, consumed and recycled into a new can. This loop can be repeated infinitely.
These properties make the aluminium beverage can the ideal packaging solution for achieving the EU’s ambitious recycling targets for 2025 and 2030. Already, in 2013, the recycling rate for used aluminium beverage cans in Europe stands at 71.3%; an important milestone on the route to our voluntary recycling target of 80% by 2020.
Recycling used aluminium saves up to 95% energy of primary production, making a major contribution to sustainability.
Promoting beverage can recycling across Europe
Every Can Counts encourages people to recycle their empty cans while out and about. Initiated in 2008, the campaign encourages collecting and recycling beverage cans consumed outside the home, such as festivals and sport events.
The Aluminium Effect
The energy saved by recycling one aluminium beverage is enough to power a smartphone for a day.
Aluminium aerosol cans
Each year, there are more than seven billion aluminium aerosol cans produced worldwide. Almost half of these are deodorant sprays, with hair sprays and foams making up about one fifth. The rest is used in preserving sensitive household, pharmaceutical and food products.
Aluminium aerosols work perfectly for recycling and the circular economy. Made from high-purity aluminium, used aerosols are a particularly sought-after for recycling.
Aluminium foil provides a total barrier to light, moisture and aroma. It thus extends the shelf life of foodstuffs, care products or medicines. Today, it is found in every conceivable market, including sterile beverage cartons, sachets, pouches, lids, wrappers, blister and strip packs and foil containers.
Typically, aluminium is rolled to a thickness of less than 0.2 millimetres. The thinnest aluminium foil is a mere 0.006 millimetres (6 microns) thick, less than a human hair while still performing as an absolute barrier. Foil thicknesses have been reduced between 28 to 40% without compromising the quality of the contents.
Conceived as a replacement for tin foil, Robert Victor Neher took out a patent in 1910 for the continuous rolling process. He opened the first aluminium rolling plant in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. By 1911, Bern-based Tobler began wrapping its Toblerone chocolate in aluminium foil. By 1912, Maggi was using aluminium foil to pack soups and stock cubes. This was the start of widespread use of aluminium foil in packaging.
Aluminium foil's manifold applications
The natural partner of the BBQ world champion
Aluminium foil and trays are ideal for BBQs. This is why European Aluminium and EAFA have teamed up with the World BBQ Organisation to supply aluminium foil and trays at their annual world championship.
The aluminium wine closure was invented more than 40 years ago. Swiss wine makers were the first to use it in large numbers, followed by wine makers in America, Australia and New Zealand by 2000. France, Germany, Italy, Chile and Argentina followed in 2002.
There are also used extensively for bottled water, as well as food products such as olive oils where the integrity and quality of the closure is important.
The Aluminium Effect
For bottled wine, an independent full life cycle assessment has shown that aluminium closures prevent better environmental performance and avoid wine spoilage.
The aluminium closure brings benefits to both producers and consumers; it preserves aromas, flavours and freshness while providing bottle-to-bottle consistency. They are easy to open and reclose with no impact on flavour. The closures come in a wide range of sizes with innovative design and infinite decoration options.
They are also easy to recycle, with more than four out of ten already being recycled in Europe, either separately or together with the glass bottle. With clear and simple collection instructions for consumers, these figures can be easily improved.