Beverage Makers Turn to Aluminum to Meet Sustainability Demands

More than 70% of new beverage product introductions are in cans as some consumers eschew plastic.

February 18, 2022


ALEXANDIRA, Va.—Sustainability is an increasing concern of consumers, and brands are listening, making sustainability a top priority in all aspects of their businesses, including production, reports Beverage Industry.

Aluminum cans can be recycled multiple times without losing integrity, which has led to a large increase in usage. According Beverage Industry, more than 70% of new beverage product introductions are in aluminum cans, and consumers are moving away from plastic bottles and other packaging substrates to cans due to environmental concerns.

“It is no surprise that beer, energy, health and soft drink beverage companies are enjoying the many benefits of the aluminum can, which has the highest recycling rate among all beverage packaging,” representatives from Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) told Beverage Industry. “In CMI’s latest can shipment reports, aluminum can production in the United States and Canada increased 3.5%.

However, according to a recent CMI survey, only 38% of U.S. consumers are aware that the aluminum in beverage cans can be infinitely recycled. CMI says that beverage companies can help build customer awareness of this by including the Metal Recycles Forever and Infinitely Recyclable logo on its cans.

Beverage makers are also innovating to meet consumer demands, though the traditional 12-ounce can still dominates the market.

“We’ve seen [the industry] breaking norms with new shapes and sizes, and improving functionality with resealability, temperature indicators and widgets to create that perfect, refreshing experience,” said CMI.

“While the soda and beer industry have long adopted the aluminum can as one of their primary packages, the water, wine and emerging beverage companies are adopting aluminum cans because of its superior attributes of sustainability, branding, convenience, performance and taste,” CMI told Beverage Industry. “Take canned wine, for example, which has seen 62% sales growth, according to Nielsen. And recent data on new beverage product introduction, nearly 75% were introduced in aluminum cans.”

CMI says it expects to see a surge in demand and growth for aluminum bottles and cans over the next five to 10 years.

More than half of all convenience store customers (54%) say they’d like to see more recycling at their local c-store, according to NACS data. NACS offers a resource in partnership with CMI on the value of can and bottle recycling, which offers tips and suggestions for improving current practices, how to effectively communicate the goals of the program with staff and customers, as well as a checklist to help retailers reduce contamination in their recycling bins.