Cans Are In

Aluminum containers might be the next big thing for beverages.

May 20, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On this week’s episode of Convenience Matters, “Realizing the Value of Aluminum for Retailers,” NACS hosts Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives, and Carolyn Schnare, director of strategic initiatives, talk about all things cans with Scott Breen, vice president of sustainability for the Can Manufacturers Institute.

“The Can Manufacturers Institute for years, decades, has been focused on increasing our recycling rate,” Breen said. For example, scouting groups have participated in the Great American Can Roundup to collect millions of cans for charity.

For retailers, cans have a lot to offer. “There are several general things that are good about a can,” Breen said. “It chills fast. It has environmental components—the aluminum within it can be recycled over and over again. Cans also have a high economic value as well as provide a 360 degree marketing opportunity.”

Aluminum cans also dominate the craft beer market. “Light and oxygen are really the enemies of maintaining freshness and the can helps block out the light and the oxygen,” Breen said. All are good things for retailers hoping to attract customers.

Aluminum cans even have less baggage associated with them than plastic bottles. “We recycle 45 billion cans a year in this country—that’s about five million an hour. The economic value of those cans is $800 million; the aluminum beverage can is the most valuable thing in the recycling stream—it’s worth about three times the PET that is typically in a plastic bottle,” Breen explained. “PET gets exported to other countries or turned into a carpet or a shirt that isn’t likely to be recycled at the end of its useful life. But aluminum can be recycled into cans over and over again.

For more on the recycling, check out the free NACS toolkit The Value of Can and Bottle Recycling.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.