The recyclability of product packaging is a rising concern for consumers, who are demanding more sustainable products. The result is that aluminum, touted as infinitely recyclable, is gaining traction among product manufacturers and the consumers they serve.
Industries that are moving increasingly to aluminum are food service packaging, beer makers, bottled water and household and personal care products.
“The ‘magic’ of metals that enables them to be reborn repeatedly is they don’t degrade or lose their chemical properties in the recycling process,” Waste 360 reports in a recent assessment of aluminum. “What helps more is that collections and processing infrastructure are in place almost everywhere that recycling exists.”
“Aluminum packaging has endless opportunities for innovation, and it is important to us to adapt our current product offerings to fit the growing desire for sustainable options,” Jay Billings, president, Ball Aerosol Packaging, told the outlet.
The shift to aluminum is evident in the expected growth of environmentally friendly packaging. The global sustainable packaging market, which includes aluminum, is set to climb from $93.6 billion in 2021 to $191 billion by 2031. The global aluminum foil packaging market is on track to surge to $50 billion by 2033, up from $35 billion in 2022.
The benefits of recycled aluminum are at least twofold. “Some brands who believe embracing aluminum is good for the environment are finding it’s good for business too,” Waste 360 reports. “Hand in Hand, among the first liquid soap makers to switch to aluminum, attributes this move in large part to its 1,000 percent growth in sales in each of the past couple of years.”
Aluminum recycling infrastructure in the U.S. is highly effective and efficient, which allows for the growth in the use of recycled aluminum packaging. As ISRI reports, U.S. recyclers recover between 85 percent to 95 percent of all aluminum in U.S. automobiles. At the same time, more than 60 percent of the aluminum consumed by U.S. mills comes from recycled material. Aluminum is particularly efficient for packaging — it takes as little as 60 days for an aluminum beverage can go from the recycling bin back to a grocery shelf.