02.02.2021 |
Global Aluminium Foil Roller Conference focuses on sustainability and customer perspectives |


Sustainability and Aluminium Foil

Aluminium foil - a solution to sustainability challenges?

In the strive for a more sustainable and responsible world, the aluminium foil industry provides solutions to many of the environmental problems today. Aluminium foil finds itself in an unthinkable amount of applications and uses for everyday life: from foil wrappers and household foil to semi-rigid foil containers, lids and laminated foil pouches and a wide range of other packaging and technical applications that meet today’s sustainability challenges.

Less material needed - less environmental impact

The very light weight of aluminium foil plus its ability to be combined with other materials to benefit from cumulated properties allows for the design of high performance packaging with a minimum use of material. Flexible packaging using aluminium foil has a much higher product to pack ratio than rigid packaging and requires less material less space and less energy to transport. Less use of resources results in a reduction in the overall environmental impact and improved profitability.

Product protection - reducing food waste

The physical properties of aluminium foil, such as the absolute barrier effect, thermal- and electrical conductivity, reflexivity, lead to more protection, less energy required for cooling and longer shelf-lives for the product contents. Protecting food from degradation translates into less food waste and ultimately greater resource efficiency. After all, it has been established that food loss and waste also amounts to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change. As a responsible actor in the global food value chain, GLAFRI supports and is member of the Save Food initiative which works on stimulating innovation, debates and development of solutions to prevent food waste on a global scale.

Recycling and social responsibility

In addition, aluminium material is fully recyclable, endlessly, without any loss of quality. Increasing collection, recycling and recovery rates for aluminium foil means that less and less primary aluminium will be required by the industry. This could represent significant energy savings as processing recycled aluminium requires up to 95% less energy than the equivalent quantity of primary metal. The amount of aluminium packaging recycled greatly depends on the efficiency of the national packaging collection schemes in each country. In Europe, it is assumed that average recycling rate of all aluminium packaging is above 60%. In the situations where an aluminium foil packaging is not collected separately for recycling and enters an energy recovery process, a significant proportion of its aluminium content can be collected from the bottom ashes for recycling. The part of aluminium which is oxidized during incineration is releasing energy which is recovered and converted back to heat and electricity.

As member of ASI (The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative), GLAFRI supports the continuous improvement on key environmental, social and governance impacts of aluminium production, use and recycling within a credible assurance and certification system.