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Aluminum Shines in Beverage, Health & Beauty, and Home Care Packaging

Gold aluminum beverage cans

Brand owners are increasingly turning to aluminum cans and bottles for their aesthetics and functionality lightweight, recyclable, durable, shatter-resistant, protective barriers (moisture, oxygen, and light), and in some cases, refillable and reusable.

Beverage Cans

Aluminum beverage cans come in several shapes and sizes: slim, sleek, and standard, with matching can ends. Decoration techniques can combine matte and metallic finishes to create depth and visual appeal. High-quality printing with inks and special varnishes delivers striking graphics, shelf impact, and unique branding opportunities. Shrink-sleeve and pressure-sensitive labels offer additional decorating options.

In addition to providing vivid color and contrast, some inks and varnishes can heighten brand engagement. For example, photochromic inks reveal hidden words or images when exposed to sunlight, while photochromic inks change color under different environmental conditions, such as chilling in a cooler. Varnishes can modify the surface texture to replicate frost or water droplets, adding a tactile experience for the user.

A popular choice for mainstream beers and soft drinks for decades, aluminum cans expanded their U.S. market share in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage categories in the past six years. From 2017 through 2022, can unit volume advanced by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6%, outperforming other major beverage package types (plastic, glass, paperboard cartons), according to Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC).

From 2022 to 2027, aluminum beverage cans expect to increase their market share by half a point, reports BMC. Craft beers, energy drinks, hard seltzers, sparkling waters, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, probiotic/prebiotic drinks, wine, and CBD & cannabis drinks will drive the growth of aluminum packaging.

RTD cocktails in 12-oz sleek cans from New Realm Distilling

When New Realm Distilling Co. embarked on a new line of premium RTD canned cocktails, the distiller partnered with Studio One Eleven, Berlin Packaging's innovation and design center, to bring the brand's story of innovative craftsmanship to life with impactful packaging graphics on 12-oz sleek cans that stand out in the burgeoning RTD aisle. Juicy fruit imagery and bright, saturated color at the bottom of the aluminum cans suggest fresh, bold flavors.

Can Recycling and Environmental Impact

At the December 2023 COP28 UN Climate Change Conference, an international coalition of aluminum container producers pledged to recycle 80% of aluminum beverage cans by 2030 and nearly 100% by 2050. Currently, more than 70% of these cans are recycled annually, according to the International Aluminum Institute.

The Aluminum Association commissioned a meta-analysis of over a dozen life-cycle assessment studies comparing carbon emissions from aluminum cans, glass bottles, and PET bottles. The analysis revealed that aluminum cans generate significantly fewer carbon emissions than glass bottles and have a carbon footprint similar to PET plastic bottles. On average, U.S. aluminum beverage cans contain 73% recycled content.

Suntory sustainable aluminum can

With its lower environmental footprint, green, low-carbon, and eco-friendly aluminum is made from renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity. In January, Suntory Spirits Ltd. announced the use of green aluminum for limited-edition cans of its The Premium Malt's brand of pilsner beer. The cans produced by a joint venture of four companies reduce CO2 emissions by 25% compared to conventional aluminum cans.

Aluminum Bottles

Like cans, aluminum bottles come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some bottles can accommodate treatment & lotion pumps and mist sprayers, making them ideal for personal care, health & beauty, cosmetic, and household care applications. Furthermore, aluminum's corrosion resistance works well with these products. Liners/coatings can add more protection. 

Some aluminum bottles feature threaded necks for screw-on caps. The resealable containers can hold food, beverage, personal care, and home care products. Aluminum beverage bottles are ideal for sporting & entertainment events and recreational activities, where glass breakage poses a danger.

Ceci 1938 750-ml aluminum wine bottles

In a bid to blend sustainability with tradition, Ceci 1938, an Italian winery, introduced two sparkling wines in 750-ml aluminum bottles created by Berlin Packaging. The innovative metal bottle incorporates a neck designed for a classic cork stopper, a metal cage, and a seal/capsule. The matte black bottles showcase tone-on-tone graphics of the Ceci 1938 logo, accompanied by subtle graduated colors for the printed labeling, while an opaque black capsule tops off the elegant bottles. 

California-based Bogle Family Vineyards recently debuted Element[AL] wines in 750-ml aluminum bottles. The metal bottles are 80% lighter than a typical glass wine bottle (90 g versus 500 g), saving nearly 12,000 pounds per truckload for the same amount of wine. Because the aluminum bottles are smaller (thinner walls and no punt) than glass wine bottles, Element[AL} shipments can fit 43% more cases of wine per truck while logging a 3% lighter load compared to glass. 

Refillable and Reusable Packaging

Because of their durability, reusability for product refilling, and high-end appearance, aluminum containers are finding more uses in personal care, health & beauty, and home care products. Eco-conscious consumers value refillable and reusable packaging for its positive environmental impact, reducing the need for single-use packaging, minimizing waste, and lowering carbon footprints.

Cost savings is another factor. Many consumers view refillable packaging as a cost-effective option in the long run. While the initial purchase price might be higher, the ability to refill and reuse the container usually translates into savings over time compared to buying single-use items again and again. 

According to research from Global Data, more than 60% of North American consumers would very/quite likely buy a refillable container and then purchase refill pouches for beauty, grooming, hair care, skincare, and household cleaning products.

Berlin Packaging dermo-cosmetic tube

Case Studies: The Body Shop and CleanCult

With more than 800 refill stations at stores across the globe, the Body Shop offers refillable aluminum bottles for its line of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and hand wash products. The beauty retailer estimates the aluminum containers could save about 30 tons of plastic from April 2021 (launch of the refill program) through 2023 if customers switched from plastic to metal bottles.

CleanCult aluminum refillable bottles for hand soap, dish soap, and all-purpose cleaner

CleanCult recently launched a line of dish & hand soaps and all-purpose cleaners in refillable aluminum bottles paired with 32-oz refill paperboard cartons. Debuting at Walmart and nearly 2,000 Albertsons grocery stores, the company claims the new packaging combination can remove 90% of plastic waste from cleaning rituals.

The brands mentioned in this report are trademarks of their respective owners. Inclusion of these brands in this report is not meant to imply an association with or endorsement from the respective trademark owners.

By: Robert Swientek
Date: February 14, 2024

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