October 30, 2020

Aluminum Cans are Getting a Boost from the Move Away from Plastics

Major aluminum roller UACJ aims to expand its worldwide production capacity of aluminum sheet by 40% from the 2019 level by 2022. It is expanding production in expectation of global demand growth.

Amid rising awareness of environmental issues such as marine pollution by plastic garbage, there is a growing transition from PET bottles to drink cans, which are easier to reuse. UACJ estimates that global demand for aluminum can materials will grow 11% from the 2019 level by 2022, to reach 6.61Mt.

Aluminum cans are seen as an easier material to reuse because their quality does not degrade after they are used once. PET bottles have low durability and other properties, and their reuse also incurs cleaning costs. Glass bottles are heavy, and transport cost for their collection and return is an issue.

The reuse costs for aluminum cans are low. According to the Japan Aluminium Association, the average recycling cost per 500ml container is JPY0.21. That undercuts PET bottles (JPY5.42) and glass bottles (JPY8.36).

But aluminum consumes large amounts of electric power at the manufacturing stage, so solutions are needed for the reducing environmental loads at the manufacturing stage.