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New Life Cycle Assessment of metal packaging shows significant reduction in Greenhouse Gases Emissions


21 Apr 2022


Climate & Environment

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Metal Packaging Europe, the association of European producers of rigid metal packaging, completed a new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of metal packaging including 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.

When compared to the previous LCAs*, the study records significant reductions in greenhouse gases emissions, confirming the industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and to decouple production from its carbon footprint. The main factors which have made this progress possible are:

  • improvements taking place in raw material production over time;
  • 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; and
  • an increase in aluminium and steel packaging recycling rates, with the beverage can recycling rate currently at 76% and steel packaging reaching 84%.

From a climate change perspective, results for the aluminium beverage cans show that the impact on climate change has been reduced by around 50% over the 2006 – 2018 period.

For steel packaging, results show that over the 2000 – 2018 period, the impact on climate change has been reduced by:

  • over 30% for food cans and general line packaging;
  • just under 20% for aerosol can (2006 – 2018);
  • over 40% for closures; and
  • over 10% for speciality packaging.

In addition to these noteworthy achievements over the past couple of years, a further 8% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions has been attained by the tinplate industry in Europe over the 2013 – 2019** period.

“Providing fact-based and unambiguous information on our industry continues to be a part of Metal Packaging Europe’s commitments. 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,” said Leonie Knox-Peebles, CEO of Metal Packaging Europe.

Made from permanent materials, metal packaging is a perfect fit for a Circular Economy. Both aluminium and steel can be recycled over and over again without losing their intrinsic properties, therefore allowing the material to remain in the economy and to reduce the need for primary raw materials.

From an environmental point of view, recycling metal packaging reduces the greenhouse gases emissions linked to the production of steel and aluminium
by around 50% and 60% respectively.

NB. The following Metal Packaging Europe members submitted data for the study:
Ardagh Group, Ball Packaging, Colep, Crown Packaging Europe, Envases, Eviosys, Massilly, Pelliconi, Sarten, Silgan and Trivium Packaging.
The study, conducted by RDC Environment and reviewed by Solinnen, is fully compliant with ISO 14040/14044 standards.

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For further information:
Phone: +32.2.897.04.90

About Metal Packaging Europe:
Metal Packaging Europe is the Brussels-based industry association which brings together European rigid metal packaging manufacturers and their national associations and represents the voice of the industry at European level.

* 2016 LCA on non-beverage metal packaging, EMPAC; 2019 LCA on aluminium beverage cans, Metal Packaging Europe
** World Steel Association 2018 and 2019 Life Cycle Inventory studies