August 2015 – According to the latest findings of the market research and consultancy firm Ceresana, there are clear indications that metal packaging is on course for expansion. For quite a while now, since 2005, the demand for metal cans for non-alcoholic drinks has apparently been rising by an annual average of four per cent throughout Europe, and there appears to be no end to its popularity. Yet the researchers are also expecting a slight downturn in the sale of food cans in countries with weak economies, while the sector is experiencing increasing competition from plastic packaging. However, the recycling rate for metal packaging is around 70 per cent and therefore no less than for other packaging materials, and the purpose of the new logo is to focus consumer attention even more closely on the recyclability of metal.
Increase in the sale of food tins by more than one billion items since 2008
The study centred upon the European market for packaging and packaging components made from sheet steel and aluminium, ranging from beverage cans, through bowls for ready meals and tubes for bodycare and medical products, to transport packaging for industrial goods. The volume of rigid metal packaging alone is estimated to reach over 280 billion items in 2021, and the overall recycling rate is already quoted as exceeding two thirds.
This positive development is due to the rising popularity of energy drinks, growing interest in innovative products, the good price of this material in most cases, and of course recycling. Moreover, the economic situation in Europe has meant that people are going less often to restaurants and eating more food at home. The sale in food tins has therefore risen by over one billion items since 2008. Similarly, despite competition from plastic packaging with its better barrier properties, the demand for aluminium tubes has led to a sales surplus, particularly in pharmaceuticals. Metal screw tops, too, are expected to have a positive future, as they can easily be opened and resealed.
Despite a recycling rate of over 70 per cent, many consumers are not aware that metal allows such trouble-free recycling. An awareness campaign has therefore been created by the umbrella organisation Metal Packaging Europe, with an industry-specific logo to encourage a clearer understanding and conviction among consumers. The logo puts a major emphasis on the sustainability and professional waste disposal of metal packaging. Food and consumer goods manufacturers are welcome to use the new logo with the word mark Metal Recycles Forever, which is also available in 14 other languages and can be placed both on-pack and off-pack.
Swiss collectors’ passion
Switzerland has had its own model for the proper disposal of metal packaging for 15 years now. A metal recycling award is given to the most avid collectors for their environmental efforts, and the three winners each receive a sum of 1,000 francs. The campaign is aimed at private households and catering outlets, though also at public event organisers and facilities.