Around the world, almost three-quarters of consumers are happy to pay more to have their goods packaged in more sustainable materials. With increasing value placed on supply chains that emphasize durable design, recycling and remanufacturing, the popularity of metal as a packing material has endured for decades. Metals retain their physical properties forever and are therefore highly suited to a circular economy where packaging is collected, recycled, and reused in a continuous loop. Steel food tins and aluminum drink cans are already commonly used for packaging consumables. However, now innovations in composite films and membranes are prolonging the storage life of contents and improving the material efficiency of containers.
Titanium Dioxide Film
TMS Titanium supplies titanium components and materials to a variety of industries, including auto racing and aviation. These are demanding industries to which titanium’s superior strength, low density, and resistance to corrosion are highly suited. In addition to these qualities, titanium also possesses excellent oxidation capabilities. Titanium dioxide is particularly useful in food packaging because of its antimicrobial and non-toxic properties. Nanosized titanium dioxide combined with chitosan, a sugar obtained from the outer skeleton of shellfish, can be used to create a packaging film that protects soft fruit from prematurely ripening, thus extending its storage life.
Steel Food Tins
The first steel can to store food and prolong its shelf life was used over 200 years ago, and since then steel has played a vital role in the preservation of food. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, it is also the planet’s most recycled material. Even when it is found in mixed waste streams, it can be easily recovered and recycled endlessly without any loss of quality making it an ideal material for environmentally-friendly packaging. New developments in steel packaging enhance its unique qualities, creating greater antimicrobial properties as well as greater material efficiency. With the addition of an aluminum membrane applied to a can cylinder, there is no need to double seam the end of the can. As this reduces the amount of metal packaging materials required, the container weighs less than usual and is, therefore, cheaper to transport.
Aluminum Drinks Cans
It is estimated that around 180 billion aluminum cans are used every year around the world. Although mining aluminum uses more energy than any other metal, aluminum cans are the most reused container, and around 75% of them are recycled every year. Aluminum is a natural and permanent element whose physical properties are unchanging, so once it is in a circular supply loop it can be recycled indefinitely. Because the metal can be repurposed at a fraction of the cost of production from new sources, aluminum cans remain a highly sustainable and practical option for packaging.
Durable and protective metals have been used for packaging food goods for decades. With greater recycling rates and advances in manufacturing techniques, they remain a practical packaging solution in increasingly sustainable and circular economies.