Posts Tagged ‘aluminum’

Written on August 11, 2021.

Take a moment and try to remember everything you threw in the trash this week. Go ahead, try it. Statistics suggest that at least 65 percent of your household’s trash came from packaging. Now factor in your neighbors. Your city. The state. The country.

If you can’t quite do the math on that, don’t worry, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already done it for you. According to the EPA, Americans produce nearly 80 million tons of waste per year in packaging alone—the equivalent of 200 Empire State Buildings.

When landfilled or incinerated, it becomes pollution, waste that poisons the environment—that’s our air, soil, and water—and poses health risks to both people and wildlife. In fact, packaging waste is the number one contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans; at current rates, it’s projected to exceed the weight of all the fish on our planet by 2050.

Unfortunately, the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry is a big part of the problem—but there’s good news to be found here, too. As some of the largest contributors of packaging waste, F&B brands can play a huge role in making a difference; and truth be told, it’s also our responsibility to try.

The sweeping decision for brands to do away with plastic straws in 2018 was just the beginning. Consumer packaging in the beverage world spans everything from the rings around soda cans and bottles to the containers themselves, their labels and closures, as well as any materials by which they are shipped and stored.

Driven by rising consumer awareness of the impact of product packaging on ongoing environmental issues—like food and material waste, pollution, and climate change—sustainability has become a significant motivator for consumer purchase decisions.

Your beverage’s packaging should not only support your drink and business, but also take care to reduce any negative impact on the environment. Smart packaging decisions require thoughtful consideration of the various elements involved in packaging a beverage product as well as the sustainable alternatives that might be available to you.

Here are 3 approaches to achieving more sustainable drink packaging:

1. Choose the most efficiently recycled packaging materials.

Not all packaging materials are created equally. Take plastic for example. While all plastics are not necessarily recyclable, many utilized in the beverage industry can be. Plastics are assigned across seven categories based on their Resin Identification Codes (RIC), distinguished by the temperature at which the material has been heated. This numerical classification can tell you what type of plastic it is you’re dealing with—and whether it’s recyclable.

PET (or polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are clear, strong, lightweight and 100 percent recyclable plastic; however there is a limit to how many times this material can be recycled before degrading substantially in quality—two-to-three times before, to be specific. This happens because every time PET plastic is recycled, its polymer chain grows shorter, and even then, additional “virgin” material needs to be added to make it durable enough to go back into the market. In other words, “recycled” plastic may not actually be completely re-used material.

This is a big reason why other highly recyclable materials are considered much more sustainable drink packaging options. Glass and metal (usually aluminum) can be recycled indefinitely without sacrificing on quality or durability, and without adding additional virgin material.

Again, there’s always a tradeoff: where plastic is lightweight and durable, glass is heavy and delicate, making shipping a challenge. Cans offer a great balance of desirable qualities for drink packaging and sustainability, but there are ongoing supply chain issues that have (at least for now) made it difficult for beverage companies to obtain them reliably.

2. Dedicate some space on your label to educate your consumers.

At this point you should know that the type of packaging materials you pick does matter. The easiest products to recycle are generally those made from a single, recyclable material; of course, the onus still lies with the consumer to actually choose to recycle the product. This is where investing in consumer awareness and education can make an impact.

Brands can help things along by calling attention to the recyclability of their product’s packaging, and by putting in the extra effort to tell consumers exactly how to do it. In fact, it’s in their best interest to do so. According to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2019 report, it is becoming increasingly common for consumers to request the ability to recycle, and they are interested in understanding how the recycling process really works. This is great news for beverage brands serious about making a positive impact.

The Coca-Cola Co. for example recently introduced the standardized labeling system “How2Recycle” across packaging for its DASANI products. The addition—which has also been utilized by other F&B brands such as Walmart, Target, Nestlé, and General Mills—is designed to both educate and encourage consumers to take advantage of the option to recycle a product’s packaging materials after use.

3. Leverage sustainability in your product’s marketing and/or brand.

Why not make environmentalism a pillar your brand is known for? Companies pairing sustainable drink packaging initiatives with thoughtful consumer education and marketing have found great success in generating meaningful change without sacrificing their bottom line.

Boxed Water Is Better was founded in 2009 with a brand identity completely focused on the company’s commitment to sustainability. As the name suggests, their mission is to offer the most environmentally friendly alternative to plastic water bottles on the market.

Their purified, mineral-free water is packaged in a 100-percent recyclable, almost entirely plant-based carton. The packaging also comprises 75 percent FSC-certified paper and 5 percent aluminum with a protective plastic film lining. Even their closure is plant-based.

Not only has the guilt-free box design allowed them to attract eco-conscious consumers to their brand while substantially reducing their carbon footprint, but it has also made shipping more logistically and financially efficient. For every 26 trucks required to ship plastic water bottles, only a single truck is needed to transport the same number of Boxed Water products. Everyone wins.

Whether you choose to utilize one of these approaches or all three, taking steps to provide more sustainable drink packaging should be a priority for any beverage brand—and it doesn’t have to be a detriment to your business! We hope we’ve shown you that you can change the world and change what the world is drinking.

If you’ve got a great drink idea, Flavorman can help you bring it to life! Get started by filling out this webform or by giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.

 

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Written on July 14, 2021.

In 2020, all of us were forced to give up a lot—social experiences, coins, baker’s yeast, even toilet paper. As vaccinations continue to roll out and we begin to feel a little safer again, the bad dream that was the worst of the pandemic is finally starting to fade away. Kind of.

For producers of the world’s beverages, the return of normalcy is taking a bit longer, primarily due to ongoing shortages and supply chain challenges. Cans are one such item that has yet to recover from scarcity, but the truth is that the can crisis has been going on for a while. If that’s news to you, then take a moment to explore the past and present landscape for sourcing cans, how producers and suppliers have been coping, and why COVID-19 has exacerbated the can shortage.

 

From Can Shortage To Can-demic

Let’s be clear about one thing—the raw material for aluminum can production is not in short supply; rather, it’s the capacity to produce the cans that’s lacking. As The Aluminum Association, an industry group representing metal manufacturers, said in a statement, “the aluminum beverage can manufacturing industry has seen unprecedented demand for this environmentally friendly container prior to and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Long before the start of the pandemic, increased demand was a key contributor to the can shortage. There are a few reasons for that. For one, cans have become a favorite among consumers prioritizing convenience. Cans are more portable and easier to store than the bulkier, heavier plastic or glass bottles. Environmental concerns have also helped drive preference for cans as they are a more sustainable and easily recycled option.

Beverage brands are equally enthusiastic about cans which offer a lightweight and reasonably priced packaging solution. Aluminum cans are also great at omitting light (unlike glass and plastic options) and they are effective in keeping out oxygen and maintaining CO2, making them efficient for longer shelf-life applications. It’s not difficult to see why beverage producers of all kinds are vying for them.

With the recent flood of RTD seltzers, cocktails, and the like, competition for cans has heated up faster than manufacturers could adjust to. Naturally, the shortage reached crisis levels in 2020 with the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As lockdowns left restaurants and bars shuttered, consumers were forced to give up their usual fountain or tap fix. Instead, consumers turned to packaged drinks they could enjoy at home and beverage brands experienced a 180-degree shift from on-premise to off-premise sales. The demand for packaged goods of all kinds skyrocketed almost overnight, putting a further strain on can manufacturers that has since been slow to recover.

 

A Kick In The Can

So, how have beverage brands been faring? Well, to put it gently—it’s been a real kick in the can.

During the height of the pandemic, lead time for shrink-sleeved cans (where plastic labels are shrink-wrapped onto containers) had grown from 4-5 days to 4-5 weeks while printed cans doubled in price—and that was assuming you could get your hands on any at all.

In response, some of the world’s major producers were forced to rethink their supply chain to make the most of the cans they already had. Some brands made the hard decision to pull certain products to free up those cans for their more popular offerings—but at a cost.

Miller Lite owner Molson Coors Beverage Co. shared that it had lost some market share in the US, partly because it had to suspend production of some canned beers—an increasingly common story among other producers, big and small. In fact, the little guys have been hit particularly hard by ongoing can supply challenges. After pivoting to canning their brews due to a loss in foot traffic, local breweries and other craft producers found themselves competing to get their products packaged and in the hands of consumers.

And it wasn’t just beer brands feeling the heat. In the height of the pandemic, it was reported that Coca-Cola temporarily stopped producing 12-packs of Minute Maid Light Lemonade and other niche products so those cans could be used for their more iconic offers, like Coca-Cola and Sprite. Pepsi also acknowledged making similar choices in their supply chain to mitigate canning challenges.

Other producers with pre-printed cans adapted by affixing new labels or changing their packaging altogether, at least temporarily, to glass or plastic bottles. While the can shortage has eased up slightly since last year, it is by no means behind us. Many of these strategies and more will need to be kept close at hand until a more permanent solution can be established.

 

Adopting A Can-Do Attitude

While can prospects have been grim for a while now, all is not yet lost. Can manufacturers are already well on their way toward implementing a solution for the can crisis. Colorado-based Ball Corp., the world’s largest supplier of beverage cans, currently produces 350 million cans a day from its facilities; now, the company is investing more than $1.5 billion to increase this capacity to meet demand that CEO John Hayes says the industry hasn’t seen since the 1970s.

This investment will help Ball open two new plants in the US by the end of 2021, as well as add two additional production lines to existing US facilities. Another major can supplier, Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings, has followed suit with its own plans to increase capacity.

In the meantime, Ball, Crown Holdings, and others are ramping up production at foreign plants to assist with addressing supply challenges in the North American market. Of course, until these additions are up and running, it will continue to be a challenge for can suppliers to meet demand. Some suggest that, despite the unusual circumstances, maybe this shortage couldn’t have been avoided after all.

As Crown Holdings CEO Timothy Donahue put it, “Even without COVID, I think we would be capacity constrained as an industry. The market was always going to be oversold this year and we were always going to be trying to find cans to serve the US customers.”

So, is there an end in sight for this can-pocalypse? Yes! However, we’ll all need to be patient. In the meantime, beverage brands continue to do their best to find creative, innovative solutions for packaging as they hope for a more stable future for cans—fingers crossed that it comes sooner than 2023.

When you’re ready talk about your beverage idea, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started with this web form.

 

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