Packaging and Sustainability
Manner and Scope of the Material’s Use
- In the field of packaging, aluminum is used because of its special material properties. The protection of sensitive food, beverages and pharmaceuticals is the main focus.
- About 11 % of the aluminum used in Germany goes into packaging.
- The use of aluminum packaging, e.g. cans, bowls, tubes, was 139,900 tonnes in 2020 (source: UBA).
- Aluminum foil is also used as a smaller “partner” with regard to weight in combination with other materials, for example as a cover or in combination with plastic and paper
- Aluminum packages are lightweight and have a small percentage of the total weight of the packaged product.
Material Use During Manufacturing
- Aluminum is extracted from ore bauxite and, increasingly, from scrap of used products.
- The energy demand for producing primary aluminum is covered by about 75 % of the world’s hydropower.
- In Germany, more than half of the produced aluminum is produced from aluminum scrap.
- The recycling of aluminum saves 95 % of the energy required for primary production.
Collection / Sorting / Recycling
- Beverage cans in the deposit system are redeemed on trade. All other aluminum packages are covered by the dual system and collected almost anywhere in the collection system.
- Regardless of their size, aluminum packages are sorted out cost-effectively and with high efficiency through the sorting facilities’ eddy-current separators.
- In 2020, the recycling rate for aluminum packaging in private end-use was 94.9 % (source: UBA).
- Aluminum can be recycled infinitely often and without quality degradation.
Development / Background / Outlook
- In the case of metal production, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by about 52 % since 1997 due to a higher share of renewable energies and process innovations.
- In many aluminum packages, the material strengths and thus the use of resources have been reduced ever further, while maintaining product protection properties; In the main applications by 25 to 40 %.
- The future-oriented packaging design focuses on optimizing the use of resources throughout the entire lifecycle and an effective protection function for the content. Reducing food loss through spoilage is an increasingly important challenge.
UBA Umweltbundesamt (2022): Aufkommen und Verwertung von Verpackungsabfällen im Jahr 2020.