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#18.09.2017 A bright future for steel: Understanding the sustainability benefits of steel for packaging

By Stéphane Tondo, President of APEAL.

From easy, infinite recyclability to ever greater savings in emissions and resources, the environmental credentials of steel for packaging are extraordinary and unique.

But sustainability is a complex issue. One of the key challenges is helping with a wider process of education so that people begin to fully understand the sustainability benefits of using steel for packaging. Over the last few years APEAL has been working hard to increase understanding of steel for packaging’s sustainability credentials through active PR and social media campaigns, and our efforts are paying-off.

We have a great story to tell. Life cycle data for both tinplate and steel cans reveal the continuous improvements being made across the sector. This is essentially due to continuous improvement in recycling rates, continuous improvement in unit lightweighting and increased amounts of green energy used for the packaging manufacturing process. In fact the production process of steel for packaging now accounts for far fewer CO2 emissions than ever before – they are 50% lower than 40 years ago. Energy consumption has also been similarly reduced.

Steel packaging’s unique preservation qualities also play an important part in preventing food waste at all stages in the supply chain. No other packaging material equals steel’s strength, total barrier properties or shelf life (up to 5 years for some food products) and as a result, food packed in steel stays fresh for longer, retains its flavour and is less likely to be damaged, spoiled, or unnecessarily wasted.

Looking ahead, I expect that our focus on communicating these sustainability credentials and achievements will become increasingly important as brands and retailers look to meet the obligations of a circular economy and achieve a more sustainable future.