Over the past 50 years, growth of the aluminum flat rolled product (FRP) industry has been heavily fueled by the adoption of the aluminum beverage can. Major global and domestic brands have used the aluminum can as the packaging container of choice for several decades and that trend shows no signs of stopping.
With a steady global growth projection of four to five percent in 2016, aluminum beverage can sheet is still king in the FRP marketplace and remains a key strategic business for Novelis, the world leader in rolled aluminum products. As the only global producer and recycler of aluminum beverage can sheet with operations in Asia, Europe, South America and North America, Novelis is well positioned to capture the growing global demand from beverage brands and canmakers seeking highly recyclable, adaptable, lightweight and protective packaging options.
Alminum Offering a Material Difference
Aluminum cans and bottles continue to be a competitive advantage for companies catering to consumers’ desires for an easy to use, convenient, lightweight and durable packaging. Compared to other packaging materials such as plastic and glass, aluminum allows beverages to stay fresher longer and be highly portable for consumers’ on-the-go occasions, including concerts, picnics, boating and other outdoor and water-related activities. As an added benefit, aluminum cans are shatter proof, provide a superior barrier to light, cool faster, stay cold longer and are one hundred percent recyclable.
Beyond aluminum’s inherent material qualities, advances in innovation and technology have enabled new packaging shapes and forms including “slim” or smaller serving can sizes, as well as the aluminum bottle. Some beverage brands are seeing up to double-digit increases in the growth of their new, smaller serving sizes or alternatively shaped cans. Beyond spatial interest, new can and bottle shapes also allow for a larger canvas for beverage branding, with 360 degrees, top to bottom visuals. No other beverage packaging option meets all of these specifications for brands aiming to appeal to an evolving consumer audience. The adaptability of aluminum is one of the many reasons why it remains a highly competitive packaging option despite decades of market change.
A Real Energy Saving Advantage
The sustainability benefits of aluminum cans are also unmatched in the marketplace. Recycling aluminum requires 95 percent less energy and produces 95 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than primary aluminum production. Additionally, emissions savings from aluminum recycling have more than doubled since 1990 and are projected to increase by an additional 50 percent by 2020, thus making can sheet from recycled material is better for the environment, better for business and better for customers. Continuing its commitment to sustainability, Novelis recycles more than 50 billion used beverage cans (UBCs) annually and turns them back into new beverage cans in a “can-to-can” cycle of approximately 60 days. This truly closed-loop process reduces the carbon footprint of aluminum beverage packaging and makes it a more sustainable option for all stakeholders along the value chain.
As consumers increasingly look for sustainable products, certified high-recycled content becomes more of a requirement and less of an option for beverage makers considering new packaging options. According to a 2014 study conducted by Forum for the Future, 82 percent of people surveyed agreed that companies should increase the amount of recycled material in their packaging. An additional 71 percent would feel better if their packaging was made of recycled material.
These findings indicate that consumers are placing an increasing importance on sustainability and high-recycled content. With the recent introduction of certified high-recycled content aluminum to the marketplace, beverage brands and canmakers are now able to certify the amount of recycled material in their packaging, making aluminum cans a leading option in sustainable packaging. Production of aluminum cans with certified high-recycled content sheet reduces the overall carbon footprint of can-making by 44 percent and proves that sustainability has a real impact on the entire value chain – from suppliers, to can makers, to beverage brands.
Novelis, the first and only materials provider to offer certified high-recycled content beverage can sheet, now offers aluminum sheet that is guaranteed to contain at least 90 percent recycled content. Available to customers globally, this beverage can sheet is certified by Scientific Certification Services, an independent leader in environmental auditing.
The aluminum beverage can is a highly engineered, premium product whose evolution continues to meet both consumer demands for portable, sustainable products, and canmaker and beverage brand demands for a highly marketable product. As the global leader in beverage can recycling and beverage can sheet production, Novelis has a deep history of collaboration with canmakers and beverage brands to develop the next wave of sustainable innovations in beverage can sheet. From product to process innovations, Novelis is continuing to make investments in its operations, supply chain and research and technology centers around the world to support the industry’s continued growth into 2016 and beyond.
Thanks to steady global demand, heightened consumer interest in products that reduce carbon footprint, and the unique value in versatility, sustainability and convenience that aluminum cans provides to both beverage brands and consumers alike, the future of aluminum can beverage sheet looks bright.
This article originally ran in the January/February issue of Aluminium International Today.