Aluminium as a sustainable option for single use packaging within a circular economy framework.
In the UAE,8 billion plastic bottled are consumed on average every year by the local population and only a very few get to be recycled while the majority ends up in landfill or worst.
So why are we still using plastic? There are alternatives already available such as glass and aluminum cans, and both materials are infinitely recyclables! The advantage of aluminum is that it is produced locally, manufactured locally and it is highly recycled compared to other materials!
We belive that the first thing we should do it to reduce the consumption of single-use items and we’ve been working hard in the past years to change mindsets and educate companies and individuals on the benefits of moving away from single-use items, specifically plastic. But we also understand that there are situations where single-use might be needed and that instead of pointing fingers we need to be open to this challenge and find another solution.
This solution is the can, the good, old can! We’ve been using it for many years for different drinks and foods… why shouldn’t we use it for water?
The can is a sustainable beverage packaging that is also smart, practical and eye-catching. Delivering unrivaled benefits, the beverage can is 100 percent and infinitely recyclable, lightweight, strong and economical. The aluminum can is the preferred package among today’s brands and consumers because it chills faster, is the world’s most recycled beverage container, and its unique stacking ability and high cube efficiency makes transport and storage easy and efficient.
So here we are, launching the UAE Can initiative to prove that not only it can be done but that we can all make a difference and make the UAE proud to move away from single-use plastic and innovate using a local product that can be implemented in a Circular Economy
Why are cans better?
75% of the Aluminum ever produced is still in use today
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, over 700 million tons of aluminium has been extracted from the Earth and processed for industrial and commercial use, and over 75% of that aluminum is still in circulation today. The same people who did the extracting and processing knew that aluminum does not lose value after it changes shape, so they promoted recycling aluminum since the beginning, and we love them for it.
If most people saw a garbage can filled with junk and metal, they would probably assume its not very valuable. But recycled metal is much more valuable than you might think, and it is valuable in more ways than one.
Did you know that some construction companies only accept recycled materials for their projects? Using recycled metals takes a huge strain off of the environment because it does not require any Earth-shredding machines or massive amounts of unpronounceable chemicals.
The next time you see some metal lying in a garbage, just know that it might be worth more than you think
Metal Recycles Forever
Transforming bauxite and iron ore into aluminum and steel is an energy-intensive process. However, because it does not require mining, refining and especially smelting processes, recycling reduces the energy needed for primary metal production by 74 percent for steel and up to 95 percent for aluminum, and reduces GHG emissions accordingly. No matter the application for which recycled metal is used, recycling a metal product reduces the need for an equal amount of more energy-intensive virgin metal, also saving resources and landfill space.
According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, for example, only 14 percent of plastic packaging globally is collected for recycling. Due to additional value losses in sorting and reprocessing, 8 percent is recycled into lower-value applications and only 2 percent of plastic packaging is actually recycled to its equivalent value.
Metal cans, however, are easily separated from other materials, either through magnets or through “eddy current” technology that efficiently captures aluminum. In addition, empty cans have the highest economic value of all packaging materials and demand for secondary metal far exceeds the supply. Recycling is an essential part of metal packaging’s life cycle. Overall, cans represent a perfect example of truly recyclable packaging and a product that fits a circular economy model very well.
Highest Recycling Rates
Metal cans are the most recycled containers in the world. In several countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, China, Germany and Switzerland, aluminum beverage can and steel packaging recycling rates are at or above 90 percent. However, collection programs in some other countries are less effective and that is where we focus our support.
Higher recycling rates help make economies more resource efficient, encourage job creation, reduce packaging’s environmental impact, help realize governments’ environmental expectations, and thereby directly benefit our customers, retailers and the metal packaging industry. All stakeholders involved in packaging collection and recycling, including material and packaging suppliers, consumer brands, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers, have a specific interest and, therefore, a role in helping improve recycling rates.
Safe, Long Lasting and Efficient
Cans provide long shelf life by protecting products inside from light, oxygen and other factors which can affect taste and even product safety.
Cans don’t shatter and are among the lightest beverage packages to transport, reducing their environmental footprint.
A 2016 study by ICF International found that the combined greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the transportation and refrigeration of beverages in aluminum cans are lower than those associated with beverages in glass or plastic bottles under the same conditions.
On a per liter beverage basis, emissions associated with transporting and cooling aluminum cans are 7 to 21 percent lower than plastic bottles and 35 to 49 percent lower than glass bottles, depending on the size of the comparative bottles as well as the types of refrigerators in which beverage is cooled prior to consumption.
On a per container basis, the associated emissions of beverage packaged in a 12-oz aluminum can is 45 percent lower than in a 12-oz glass bottle and 49 percent lower than in a 20-oz plastic bottle when delivered and chilled in small markets and convenience stores.
Comparing CO2 emissions of plastic and aluminum, the shape, dimensions, weight and material of the aluminum can offered higher packaging and cooling efficiencies that resulted in less energy needed and lower emissions. Marian Van Pelt, Vice President at ICF International noted: “Across all scenarios studied, aluminum has lower associated use-phase emissions than comparable glass or plastic containers.”
A strong indicator of material management and industrial efficiency, the weight of the average aluminum can has declined significantly – 38 percent – since tracking began in 1972. After all these years, can makers continue to innovate, making more cans with less metal while maintaining strength and durability.
Lighter cans mean better shipping efficiency and less waste. Aluminum cans are more than 15X lighter than standard glass bottles, allowing brands to package and transport more beverages using less material.
Aluminum is a fundamental part of the local economy
In November 2019, the UAE celebrated the anniversary of the aluminum industry. In 1972 the UAE had no aluminum production and today it is the 5th largets aluminum producer in the world!
40 years ago, Shaikh Rashid launched Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL). Today, the company contributes to the creation of 60,000 jobs and to Dh20 billion in the UAE economy annually. Meanwhile, Emirates Global Aluminium has become the largest exporter of high quality aluminum in the world.
To make it short:
- Cans are 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality
- With a 60 percent global recycling rate, cans are the most recycled beverage containers in the world
- Cans have the highest scrap value, subsidizing the collection and recycling of other materials
- Cans are recycled through a well-established and efficient infrastructure
- Cans can be recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in just 60 days
- Cans are stackable and have a high cubic efficiency, making them cost-effective to transport
- Cans are lightweight, unbreakable and provide superior product protection
- Cans chill faster