Powerful packaging solutions are crucial for the protection of food and medication. In addition to unconditional product safety and environmental friendliness, an attractive design is often crucial. “We specifically address key trend topics and requirements such as sustainability, resource conservation and reuse. Aluminum, the material of the future, offers excellent solutions for this, ”says Hydro Group CEO Oliver Bell. In addition, aluminum has valuable functions such as aseptic barrier protection or insulating properties, Bell continues.
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"Especially in the case of foils, we will score points in future with degreased hard foils that are just 15 micrometers (µm) thin. This is a great advantage for manufacturers of blister packs in the pharmaceutical sector or of insulating films. Desirable degreasing without loss of quality has so far only been possible from 50 µm, ”says Manfred Mertens, Head of the Hydro Aluminum Packaging business unit.
Thanks to an environmentally friendly cleaning process in which the rolling oil is removed, foils will remain much more dimensionally stable and hard enough for their purposes.
Another new development: aluminum foils can now also be rolled onto wafer-thin 5 µm for coating solutions and thus save 16 percent material. So far, 6 µm was considered the sound limit. At 150,000 tons a year, the range of the film with a width of up to 2020 mm increases considerably.
In the field of canned strips, Europe's leading manufacturer of rolled aluminum products for the packaging industry has the brilliEND ™ product line. This line offers the customer enormous advantages with unprecedented surface gloss at the point of sale.
"In addition, we can already exclude chromic acid from the production process", Manfred Mertens describes the company's successful efforts when it comes to sustainable environmental protection.
Environmental responsibility is very important.
Recycling and resource conservation are core elements of Hydro Aluminum's commitment to sustainable business. The recyclability of aluminum is outstanding. In Germany, the recycling rate for packaging is a record 89 percent. This is how the GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsforschung mbH in Mainz determined: A remarkable 83,500 t of the total of 93,800 t of aluminum packaging were recycled in 2012.
Mertens emphasizes: “The production of secondary aluminum requires just 5 percent of the energy required for primary production - apart from the saving on raw materials. As a result, we sustainably reduce our ecological footprint. Currently, recycling aluminum packaging in Germany avoids greenhouse gases of 390,000 t CO 2 equivalents each year. "Here, Mertens continues, his company makes a significant contribution to environmental protection.
Thanks to new rolling technologies and alloys, the aluminum manufacturer has been able to save around 40 percent in weight in can production alone over the past 20 years. Just 1 kilogram of the material protects 30 liters of beverages. For comparison: 1 kg of glass is only enough for 1.5 liters.
On the way to a resource-efficient society, Hydro Aluminum, together with customers and other industrial partners, has built up a Europe-wide network that aims to further promote collection and recycling. In Europe, an average of two out of three beverage cans are recycled today.The company doesn't leave it at that. With another thirteen member companies, Hydro has defined 70 criteria for standardization for sustainable aluminum production as part of the international aluminum stewardship initiative. These include social and ecological performance as well as the principles of good corporate governance along the entire value chain of the future material aluminum. A draft of this standard was published for the first time in early 2014.