Steel cans used for food conservation preserve high levels of nutrients and vitamins.
Contrary to popular belief, canned fruits and vegetables use no chemical preservatives but are conserved via high-pressure processing techniques that kill bacteria.
As an ambient packaging medium, steel cans do not require cooling in the supply chain, simplifying logistics and storage and saving energy and cost.
Steel packaging offers 100% barrier protection against light, water and air, and is the most tamper-tamper-resistant food packaging option available today.
By extending the product’s shelf-life, steel cans allow longer sell-by and use-by dates, thus reducing waste.
Steel’s relatively high thermal conductivity means canned drinks chill much faster than those in glass or plastic bottles.
Steel is used to pack more than 1,500 food and drink items as well as paint, health and beauty products and household products.
Magnetic properties and recycling
Steel is a ferrous metal and is, therefore, magnetic. For packaging, this is unique. This allows the use of magnetic conveyor systems to transfer empty cans through the filling and packing processes, increasing accuracy and reducing potential spillage and waste.
In recycling facilities, steel cans may be readily separated from other waste using magnetic equipment, including cross-belt separators, known as overband magnets, and drum magnets.
The steel packaging recycling rate has reached over 90% in some countries, and steel is Europe’s most recycled packaging material.
The steel industry needs the used cans and will use them in the production of new steel products. By recycling the cans and closing the loop, CO2 emissions are dramatically reduced.
Steel cans are recycled by being melted down in an electric arc furnace or basic oxygen furnace.
Steel is a permanent material (steel can be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality). Recycling a single can saves the equivalent power for one laundry load, 1 hour of TV or 24 hours of lighting (10W LED bulb).
In the past 20 years, the weight of steel cans has been reduced by 33%. Lighter cans positively impact the environment by reducing the amounts of raw materials and energy required to produce them.
The majority of steel used in packaging is tinplate, which has been coated with a thin layer of tin, whose functionality is required for the production process. The tin layer is typically applied by electroplating.