Scientific study on permanent materials

New study affirms metal as a packaging material perfectly suited to a circular economy

Aluminium and steel fulfil the criteria for “permanent materials”

There is a general concern in society today about the earth’s limited resources and about using them in an efficient and sustainable manner to minimise the environmental impact. Using materials efficiently creates “more with less” and delivers greater value for society with less input.

In view of these concerns, the metal packaging industry, which mainly uses steel and aluminium in packaging applications, has looked more closely at the characteristics of metals and other packaging materials (such as glass, plastic and paper) with a view to maximising the potential for resource efficiency of metal packaging.

The Swiss consultancy Carbotech, together with an expert group from the metal packaging sector, has carried out research to identify more detailed and precise categorisation of packaging materials. The study examines both the chemical and physical properties of a material to help define what is permanent and non-permanent. The research elaborates on the differences between materials that lose their inherent properties when recycled (degradation) and materials that do not. Those materials that do not degrade can be infinitely recycled which brings significant savings in material resources.

This new categorisation is important, since the permanent materials concept perfectly matches society’s vision for a circular economy, as defined by the “zero waste society”.

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