Composite Can Manufacturers Tout Superior Shelf Stability; Is this really true and at what cost?
Efforts to offer freshness equal to that of metal cans reduces recyclability.
Metal packaging offers the longest shelf life and superior safety for food and beverages by preventing microbes, light, and oxygen from damaging the product inside the container. Paper containers must add laminates (plastic, metal or both) to the substrate in order to provide a barrier to oxygen, water vapor, and odor. Plastics provides varying degrees of protection based on the polymers used.
Composite cans are a combination of paper and barrier laminates (plastic, metal or both). Depending on the desired qualities, multiple layers of laminates are required to provide the rigidity, resistance to air and moisture and other attributes desired. These benefits have always existed in steel cans.
While recycling centers have been innovating and looking for ways to address multi-layer laminated packaging, there is still no universal, widely-adopted solution. This means that the majority of these paper and composite packages are exempt from curbside recycling programs and will end up in landfills. There is also little consumer education in this area. Additionally, these packages are not containers that consumers are inclined to up-cycle, reuse, or repurposed.
A metal package, on the other hand, could be repurposed as a gift container, a keepsake, a planter, or can be recycled curbside throughout the United States.
Packaging developers are in a constant state of innovation. They are looking for new packaging as a solution for modern problems. However, many have overlooked the fact that traditional packaging solutions, such as metal cans, have already solved many of these issues without the environmental trade-offs.
This is the perfect time for metal packaging!