Steel is a permanent material meaning that it can be endlessly recycled without any loss of quality. In Europe, 79.5% of steel packaging is recycled making it the most recycled material for food, beverage and other household packaging, and we have an objective to achieve a recycling rate of 80% by 2020.
The European steel industry already reduced CO2 emissions from production by 50% over the last 40 years. It is currently investigating breakthrough technologies that would allow for a future emission reduction of a similar magnitude. These techniques could imply CO2 capture and storage but also less conventional carbon-lean or carbon-free solutions are being considered. In any case implementation of any such technology would imply huge structural changes in the steel industry for the years to come.
Recycling one tonne of steel saves over 2 tonnes of raw materials and also helps to reduce CO2 emissions. In fact, each item of recycled steel packaging saves over 1.5 times its weight in CO2. In addition, the more steel packaging is properly collected, sorted and recycled, the more material is kept within the material loop, creating value and growing the circular economy. By integrating recycled steel into the manufacturing process our industry achieves energy savings of 70% and lowers CO2 emissions – regardless of the final use of new steel being produced. The industry is strongly committed to the further reduction of CO2 emissions by actively promoting the recycling of steel, increasing packaging optimisation and eco-design, and applying more sustainable production technologies.
With its portion-sized packaging, long shelf life and ambient storage capabilities, steel’s reliability allows it to save food and resources, including energy. Portion-sized packaging means consumers can buy according to their needs. Steel provides a 100% barrier against light, water and air. Contents are protected from the environment, and the environment is protected from packaged contents such as volatile, hazardous or inflammable products.
Canned products have a natural shelf life of up to three years, with no need for chemical additives for preservation. The canning process “locks in” taste and nutrients – in fact, the vitamin content of canned food has been proven many times to be equal to fresh.
What’s more, steel for packaging reduces energy use too. Products packed in steel require no refrigeration during transport and storage. This makes them more energyefficient than competing products such as frozen food, which uses up to 70% more energy in the supply chain.
From the production to transport and storage, steel for packaging offers greater protection, value and performance throughout the supply chain. The efficiency of steel begins on the filling line where the natural strength and magnetic properties of steel mean that up to 500 food cans can be processed per minute with virtually no product loss.
During transport and storage, multi-layer stacking formats deliver better space use. Virtually unbreakable, the resistance of steel packaging against crushing, perforation and denting is much higher than alternative packaging solutions, which means no outer packaging is required for added protection.
At the end of the supply chain, customers also benefit from having products made available, in all seasons, in a wide range of dispensing options and a multitude of volumes. Meanwhile, steel’s smooth surface makes it easy to use techniques such as moulding, embossing and printing for better brand differentiation and greater shelf impact. Such shaping makes handling the containers easier for young or elderly consumers.