Cans: the green packaging that’s sweeping the beverage and liquid market

What’s the Holy Grail of sustainable packaging? Infinite recyclability. Cans are up to the challenge, a rare green packaging that ticks all the boxes for recycled and recyclable packaging, forever.

Light and primarily made of aluminum, the can embodies the very essence of recyclable packaging. It has established itself as one of the most recycled packagings in France. A look at the small metal box that keeps evolving.

Cans at a glance: an old packaging that’s more relevant than ever

In 1935 in the U.S., and from 1937 in France, some beverages and liquids were sold in round metal containers, without an easy-open ring at the time.

In the early 1950s, soda manufacturers took a keen interest in this convenient portable packaging. In the 1960s in the U.S., and the 1970s in France, cans with easy-open lids began to flood the market. Since then, their reputation has been impeccable: cans have appealed to all generations, all social classes, and all sales channels.

Key figures on cans in France

  • 84% of French people have consumed canned beverages during the year, either at home or outdoors.
  • The 2nd most preferred packaging for on-the-go consumption by 57% of the French. The only packaging that seriously rivals plastic bottles, which 66% prefer.
  • 79% of the French consume canned beverages at home, representing a steady increase in at-home consumption (+6% in 2 years, since 2020).
  • A 3.2% annual sales increase, the highest in the beverage and liquid packaging sector (compared to plastic’s 2.2% increase in bottle sales per year).
  • 22.4% of beers purchased in stores are in cans. Non-alcoholic beers are more popular, with a clear increase of +4.5% in one year.
  • Currently, 6 out of 10 cans are recycled in France (60%).

Cans packaging is at the heart of the ongoing materials revolution. It has seen a clear rise in all types of sales channels:

  • +7.2% in hypermarkets.
  • +6.5% in convenience stores.
  • +6.4% in e-commerce.
  • +2.8% in supermarkets.

According to the CITEO report, steel packaging accounts for 5% of household packaging in France, or 275,000 tons, of which 17% are cans.

Cans: packaging that goes through recycling cycles

Today, the can is defined as light, ecological, and infinitely recyclable packaging.

Aluminum cans have become one of the most popular materials in France due to their extreme versatility, durability, and recyclability.

Strong and ensuring the safe preservation of beverages and liquids, cans offer ease of consumption, recycling, and reuse.

Praised for their long shelf life, cans come in a variety of shapes and sizes while remaining 100% recyclable regardless of their size.

Indeed, cans are among the few packagings capable of being recycled infinitely without degrading their quality.

Cans take less than 60 days to re-enter the cycle and reappear for sale in the market.

Cans: a thriving green packaging

The future of cans lies in recycling, continuing their eco-responsible commitment to rejoining the circular economy. The challenge remains to raise awareness and facilitate proper sorting. Alone, 1 ton of recycled cans can save the equivalent of 9 tons of CO2.

In the long run, the higher the recycling rate of the can, the lower its carbon footprint. Every recycled can saves water and energy, raw materials, and reduces the overall amount of CO2 released.

That’s why steel recycling, especially cans, is promoted by various industry and recycling stakeholders.

Are you a stakeholder in the metal sector and want to join us for the next edition of the ALL4PACK Packaging Paris trade show? Don’t hesitate to register! In the meantime, catch up with all our replays of the latest conferences.

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