Study finds recycling metal packaging reduces GHG linked to production by up to 60% 

Aluminium recycling

Metal Packaging Europe says that recycling metal packaging “reduces the greenhouse gases (GHG) linked to the production of steel and aluminium by around 50% and 60% respectively”, according to a new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of metal packaging includes aluminium beverage cans, aluminium and steel food cans, steel aerosols, steel general line and speciality packaging and steel closures.

Based on 2018 production data, the study covers the life cycle of metal packaging produced in Europe, from raw material extraction through manufacturing and end-of-life.

The report states there has been a 50% reduction in the impact aluminium beverage cans have on climate change over the 2006-2018 period.

The report also suggests that between 2000-2018, steel packaging’s impact on climate change has been reduced by:

  • Over 30% for food cans and general line packaging.
  • Just under 20% for aerosol cans (2006 – 2018).
  • Over 40% for closures.
  • Over 10% for speciality packaging.

Metal Packaging EuropeAs well as the reductions in aluminium beverage cans and steel packaging, the report suggests an 8% reduction in GHG emissions in the tinplate industry in Europe between 2013 and 2019.

In comparison to previous LCAs, the most recent study records significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Metal Packaging Europe says this confirms “the industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and to decouple production from its carbon footprint”.

They point to improvements in raw material production as the reason for this reduction, as well as:

  • Improvements in the can manufacturing processes, including an increase in energy and resource efficiency.
  • A reduction in can weight, of 2% for aluminium beverage cans, for example, and 1% for steel food cans.
  • An increase in aluminium and steel packaging recycling rates, with the beverage can recycling rate currently at 76% and steel packaging reaching 84%.

Leonie Knox-Peebles, CEO of Metal Packaging Europe, said: “We are delighted with the significant progress already made by our members and are confident that even higher reductions will be achieved in the coming years thanks to a combination of initiatives helping to improve the sustainability of the can manufacturing process and ever-increasing recycling rates across Europe.”

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