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Favorable footprint for recycled aluminium cans

A new life-cycle assessment study on beverage cans in Europe shows improved results for aluminium cans – which will boost efforts to increase recycling rates even further.

Hard facts

In the ongoing debate about climate issues, retail chains and food and beverage producers are increasingly requesting hard facts and figures about the ecological performance of beverage cans.

To provide reliable data, Beverage Can Makers Europe, the European Aluminium Association and the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging commissioned PE International to undertake a comprehensive life-cycle assessment study on metal beverage cans.

Hydro supported the project with data and expert knowledge from the very beginning in 2007.

The analysis focused on typical aluminium and steel beverage cans – in volumes of 25cl, 33cl, 44cl and 50cl – used throughout Europe.

The evaluation covered material production, can and lid manufacture, and recovery and use of secondary raw material through well-established collection schemes.

Clear correlation

The results show a clear correlation between can collection rates and ecological performance. The higher the collection rate, the lower the impact aluminium cans have in absolute terms – including when compared with steel cans.

In fact, the environmental advantage of the 50cl aluminium can surpassing that of steel as soon as the recycling rate exceeds 42 percent. At a 100 percent collection rate, aluminium cans have nearly half the emissions of CO2-equivalents than steel cans, the analysis shows.

The study shows that the aluminium can already enjoys an excellent position in many countries with medium to high recycling rates.

It also gives added impetus to Hydro and the EAA Packaging Group in their efforts to continuously lower the carbon footprint of aluminium beverage cans by increasing recycling rates throughout Europe.

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