Steel for packaging can address modern concerns such as recycling and humanity’s effect on the environment. In May this year, the European Commission adopted its which aims to help Europe transition to an economic model where resources are used in a more sustainable way.
The CEP endorses the concept of ‘multiple recycling’ for packaging made from permanent materials such as steel. For example, almost 78 percent of all steel packaging is recycled at the end of its life. It’s very easy and cost-effective to extract from the waste stream compared to other materials. Using a simple magnet, the steel is collected and within six weeks it is part of a new steel product. And there are no limitations on the applications it can be used to create.
The CEP and the EU’s upcoming strategy on plastics is driving brands to find sustainable packaging solutions using permanent materials such as steel. Materials like steel are not just – they are effectively recycled. The infrastructure is already in place to collect, sort, and recycle steel and a vibrant market for this secondary raw material exists.
Few other packaging materials can keep canned food safe and preserve nutrients for as long as steel. A 2015 study by Germany’s Institut für Lebensmittelqualität (Institute of Food Quality) showed that canned peas and carrots have similar levels of key vitamins as fresh produce. And food packed in steel cans stays fresh for longer – whatever the storage conditions.
Cans are simple and fast to manufacture, providing great flexibility for fillers and enabling them to pack most canned foods within three hours of harvest. That helps to reduce food waste as produce doesn’t have time to spoil before it is packed.
Steel also acts as an impenetrable barrier to air, light, moisture, and bacteria to keep the contents safe. That’s why manufacturers of baby-milk formula almost always utilise steel packaging to keep their product safe. Steel is a very popular choice with consumers in this market as people want a safe product for their children.
There are also no ongoing refrigeration costs or environmental effects from the storage of canned foods – a significant advantage over other packaging solutions such as frozen goods.
Steels cans are extremely robust and are rarely damaged during filling, handling, or storage. They are also quicker to fill and sterilise and cope with pressures up to ten times higher than retortable cartons. And thanks to the robustness of steel, just one can out of every thousand is lost during filling.
ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products has a wide range of steels for food product packaging. This gives brand owners significant flexibility in packaging design. Whatever the product’s requirements, ArcelorMittal has a packaging steel to match. We are also the only steelmaker with a presence in all of Europe’s major food-producing countries including France, Italy, and Spain.
Steel might have been around for 200 years, but at ArcelorMittal we are constantly innovating and co-engineering with our customers to ensure that it remains the packaging material of the future.