part of our everyday lives

can carbon footprint cut by 44%
The American Aluminium Association has completed one of the most comprehensive and transparent life-cycle analyses (LCA) ever conducted by an industry group, with the study publicly available at www.aluminum.org/lca.

The independent study of aluminium cans was carried out by PE Americas, part of PE International, the international market leader in strategic consultancy, software solutions and extensive services in the field of sustainability.

The results confirmed major reductions in the aluminium can’s carbon footprint and energy use. The major findings include:

  • Reduction in overall carbon footprint of the aluminium can by 44%; 
  • 30% less energy usage in creation; 
  • Reduction in package weight of 15%; and 
  • 68% total recycled content, the highest of any beverage package material.

“The data shows that we are using significantly less material and less energy to produce same-size beverage cans as compared with 17 years ago,” said Steve Larkin, president of the American Aluminium Association.

“The aluminium industry has made tremendous gains in sustainability. The aluminium can is more sustainable than ever.”

This LCA is an independent comprehensive life-cycle study that analysed the entire production process – from bauxite mining to can manufacturing. The study incorporated the latest available information on energy and material consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental releases. The study examined the can manufacturing process using both the cradle-to-cradle closed-loop approach and the recycled content approach. It conformed to ISO methodology and was peer reviewed by respected professionals in the LCA community, including experts from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the American Environmental Protection Agency.

“LCA is the universally accepted method to comprehensively assess the environmental impact of a product from the raw materials, through the production, distribution, use, disposal, and recycling of that product—its full life cycle,” said Nunoda Silva, Managing Director of PE Americas.

“The aluminium industry has made every effort to ensure the integrity and transparency of this important project,” Larkin said.

“The study also confirmed our belief that the key to continuing to improve the carbon footprint of the aluminium can is to increase recycling rates,” said Pat Persico, manager of corporate communications for Novelis and chair of the Aluminium Association’s Can Committee.

“Recycled aluminium uses 95% less energy and creates 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than new aluminium,” Persico said.

The aluminium from an aluminium can, when recycled, can be back on the shelf as a new can in as little as 60 days.


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