Metal, the resource at the core of our business as it is the predominant material in our products, scores high marks across all three dimensions of sustainability: economic, environmental and social.
Underpinning the format's sustainability credentials is the fact that it is produced from permanent materials such as aluminum and iron ore that can be infinitely recycled with no loss of physical properties. These natural elements maintain their properties forever, making metal a key contributor to the circular economy. In other words, once metal enters the material-to-material loop, where it gets recycled again and again, it will always be available for future use. This constant reuse into new containers or other metal products saves raw materials and energy and reduces CO2 emissions. Consider these facts:
Aluminum continues to maintain its position as the most sustainable beverage package, delivering a long shelf life, high recyclability rates and material value. For example, American consumers recycle aluminum beverage cans at rates 10-20 points higher than competing beverage package types6. Aluminum cans also contain about 70% recycled content on average, three times higher than other formats7. In Europe, more than 7 out of 10 aluminum beverage cans remain in the circular economy, with the overall recycling rate in the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland increasing by 1.8% to a new record level of 71.3% in 20138.
Steel recycling rates in Europe also hit an all-time high, reaching 77.5% in 2015 and representing an increase of 1.5 percentage points from 20149. In the U.S., recycling rates continue to hold steady around the 70% mark10, in part due to the high level of access to steel recycling. More than 18,000 curbside, drop-off and buyback programs accept steel cans, reaching more than 160 million consumers across the country11. This reach also extends to steel aerosol recycling, with over 214 million people in the U.S. having the opportunity to recycle these containers12.
This well-established recycling infrastructure is based on the fact that aluminum and steel are the most valuable of all major recycled materials. In fact, the materials are so valuable that they more than pay for the cost of their own collection and effectively subsidize the recycling of other, less valuable materials like paper and plastic.
Recycling aluminum saves more than 90% of the energy needed to make new aluminum.
Lightweighting is fundamental to reducing the environmental footprint of metal packaging. The industry has continued
to make strides in reducing the thickness of can walls and ends without sacrificing container performance or the
critical barrier and strength properties that brand owners demand.
This process enables can makers to produce more cans with the same material and for resources to be used more efficiently, as energy consumption is reduced downstream in the supply chain, limiting environmental impact.
One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year16. This waste occurs in both emerging and mature economies, although it takes place at different stages of the value chain.
The inherent properties of metal packaging support food protection and preservation with long package shelf lives, making food and beverage cans a key weapon in the fight against food waste at each stage in the supply chain. In fact, steel food cans alone have a tremendous impact on preventing food waste. For example, packaging produce in cans rather than packing it for refrigeration or freezing saves over one billion liters of food per year19.
Our innovations reach billions of people around the world every day, and we strive to deliver packaging that is functional, convenient and engaging. But we also go to great lengths to ensure our innovations are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Here are just a few examples of the dynamic technologies we offer:
"Sustainability has always been part of our brand strategy and is an important topic for consumers in the Netherlands, where almost 96% of steel packaging is recycled. By introducing the Orbit® Closure, Crown solved a long-standing consumer problem: the openability of glass jars. Now, consumers of all ages, including the elderly, can open jars of our fruits and vegetables effortlessly. This convenience also makes it easy for consumers to incorporate more portions of this important food group into their diets and minimizes the waste associated with fresh fruits and vegetables, which spoil easily and can go unsold on supermarket shelves.”
"At Polar Beverages, we are conscious about the lifecycle of our containers and we aim to design our packages with fewer raw materials and more post-consumer recycled materials that still keep our products strong and lightweight. Working with Crown has allowed us to satisfy this need, as aluminum provides the optimum value for us and our loyal customers."