The Choice for Future Generations
Metal cans are produced with abundant and recycled materials, minimizing the depletion of natural resources. Steel and aluminum cans are the nation’s most recycled food and beverage containers.
The result of all that recycling? Less pollution, reduced costs and a steady supply of resources for years to come—the very definition of sustainability.
High Recycling Rates
Steel and aluminum cans are easily reclaimed from the waste stream and recycled into new cans of the same strength and quality. It’s an efficient process that takes as little as 60 days.
- Steel and aluminum cans are 100% recyclable.
- Cans may be recycled again and again without loss of strength or quality.
- Steel cans have a 71% recycling rate, which is the highest of any food package. In fact, steel is the most recycled material in the world.
- Aluminum cans contain an average of 68% total recycled content and, with a 65% recycling rate, are the most recycled beverage containers.
Nearly 75% of all aluminum and 80%-90% of all steel that has ever been produced is still in use today!
The can’s great recycling story is better for:
- Recycling preserves resources for future generations.
- Keeps water and air cleaner.
- Minimizes CO2 emissions and mitigates climate change.
- Keeps waste out of landfills and incinerators.
- Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to produce new cans from virgin ore and creates 97% less water pollution, while keeping 1.7 billion pounds of waste out of landfills.
- Every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal and 40 pounds of limestone, ensuring a steady supply for the future.
- Cans provide a solution to consumers’ demands for green products.
- 7 in 10 adults said they would purchase a product because its packaging is better for the environment.
Recycling 1 aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for 3 hours.
Cans Protect Products Better
Safe, strong and lightweight cans:
- Keep out air and light — the two enemies of freshness.
- Retain the intended taste — especially delicate flavors like those in craft beers.
- Don’t shatter — they’re safer to fill and ship.
- Are the most tamper-resistant package — and tamper-evident, too.
- Chill faster — and help retain carbonation.
makes cans better for:
- The canning process kills off bacteria and locks out pathogens, protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses.
- Canned fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and immediately canned, locking in taste, nutrition and freshness.
- Nearly 50% of all harvestable food in the United States is thrown out. In fact, food waste is the single largest component of the landfill stream.
- The can minimizes food waste by keeping products fresh.
- Less food is thrown out because less food is spoiled.
- Food waste costs the U.S. economy more than $1 billion each year.
- Minimizing food spoilage with cans means minimizing loss.
A recent study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that canned peaches pack as many nutrients as fresh—and retain nutrients much longer.
Lightweight, Strong and Economical
Lightweight cans are heavyweights when it comes to cost savings. Over the past two decades, innovations in "lightweighting" technology have reduced the weight of cans. Today, 34 aluminum cans weigh only 1 pound, which translates to production savings across the supply chain, from material use to fuel costs.
Each generation of recycled cans is as strong as the last but carries a smaller cost to brand owners, retailers and consumers.
Cans are cheaper to ship.
The can’s light weight and cubic efficiency allows more product to be shipped using less fuel.
Due to the high value of scrap aluminum, cans self-finance their recycling.
Cans save you money.
Products packaged in cans don’t require refrigeration or freezing, saving energy costs throughout the supply chain—on shipping, warehousing and retailing.
The can’s long shelf life helps minimize food and beverage waste, as well as associated cash costs.
Thanks to their COST EFFECTIVENESS, cans are better for:
The average family of four throws away nearly $600 annually in food waste. Canned products give consumers an option that can help reduce those costs.
Canned products don’t require the energy of refrigeration during storage.
Cans help minimize food and beverage waste by providing the longest shelf life of any package. That means more profit for producers and retailers, and more money in the pockets of consumers.
Nifty Metal Packaging, New Possibilities
Grocery shoppers today can select from an array of convenient—and completely recyclable—metal containers, including:
- Beverage cans with resealable lids
- Easy-open food cans with pull-tab lids
- Distinct and functional can shapes like bowls, kettles and squares
Today’s manufacturing technologies make can innovations possible. New sizes, state-of-the-art shapes, photograph-quality art and 360 degrees of billboard space allow brand owners to customize the can experience.
INNOVATIVE packaging designs make cans better for:
- Cans of varying sizes provide portion control.
- Resealable cans allow people to enjoy drinks on-the-go.
- Metal packaging designs are made from abundant and recyclable resources.
- Resealable cans reduce waste.
- Innovative metal packaging designs give companies a new way to attract attention.
- Leading companies have identified the can as a key tool in developing brands and driving sales.
Cool with Consumers
People prefer products in cans because:
- Cans protect the taste and integrity of the products inside
- They keep out air and light, assuring fresh, safe and delicious foods and beverages
- Cans don’t shatter.
- Cans are allowed on the beach, by the pool and at sporting events and concerts.
- They come in many sizes, helping with portion control.
- Some are now resealable—perfect for taking products on-the-go.
- It’s convenient and inexpensive to keep a pantry stocked with cans.
- Cans stack and are easy to store.
- Many cans feature appealing designs and shapes.
- A recent national survey reveals aluminum cans are viewed more favorably than either glass bottles or plastic bottles.
7 in 10 adults say they would purchase a product because its packaging is better for the environment.
"Grab me a cold one."
Beverages in cans chill faster. Cans deliver a fresher, better-tasting drink.
"There's nothing like a home-cooked meal."
Cans lock in the nutrients of fruits and vegetables at the peak of ripeness.
"Reduce. Reuse. Recycle."
People want green products without compromising on convenience or cost. Endlessly recyclable cans fit the bill.
"Show me the money."
Americans earn about $1 billion a year by recycling aluminum cans.
Cans are easy to recycle, and recycling makes people feel good.
The proof? 105,800 aluminum cans are recycled every minute!
Important to the American Economy
The American companies that make cans or support the can manufacturing industry:
- Create well-paying jobs along the entire supply chain.
- Generate, as an industry, $5.1 billion in tax revenue to the government.
Can manufacturers account for the annual domestic production of approximately 124 billion food, beverage and other metal cans. The can manufacturing industry employs some 28,000 people in 35 states.
You can thank the can manufacturing supply chain for:
- 224,257 jobs
- $12.47 billion in wages
- $54.3 billion in output
Cans have a beneficial ECONOMIC IMPACT on:
- Americans earn $12.47 billion in wages from jobs related to the can industry.
- Americans could save $3 billion worth of energy each year by recycling cans.
- Lightweight cans lower shipping costs.
- Aluminum boasts the highest per-pound scrap value.
- Products made with recycled metal are less expensive than ones made from virgin materials.
There are many more facts and figures out there that support our reasons why cans are the sustainable and smart packaging choice. Browse these websites and fact sheets for a start.
Retailers strongly agree that environmentally friendly packaging drives consumer purchasing decisions.
Check out our info-graphic on what else CMI learned in our latest study on sustainable packaging.
Thank you for your interest in cans! We hope you will help us get the word out about why cans are a smart and sustainable choice.
- Consumer Demand Continues to Drive Sustainability for Retailers
- Minimizing Food Waste
- CMI Wins Gold in Association TRENDS’ 2013 All-Media Contest
- Cans: The Sustainable Solution for 21st Century Packaging
- Cans Are Catching On
- Fighting Food Waste with Can PackagingOne of the 10 most accessed articles on Greener Package website in 2013.
- Aluminum Reaches New Heights
We're busy building our schedule for 2014 to spread the word about how and why cans are the smart and sustainable packaging. Check back in January for the 2014 calendar of industry events where you can come see us!
Have a question to ask? A story to share? Or perhaps you would like to request more information. Give us a call or send an email. We’ll be happy to help.
Vice President, Sustainability
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Can Manufacturers Institute
1730 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036