Enhancing Sustainability Performance through Lightweighting

Four people off-screen clink a combination of glasses and aluminum cans together.
Thursday, September 9, 2021

The EU is seeking to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 as outlined in the European Green Deal. One of the deal’s key building blocks is the transition to the Circular Economy, which will reduce pressure on natural resources, create sustainable growth and jobs and help achieve the EU’s climate neutrality target.

The metal packaging industry is already making significant contributions to the Circular Economy thanks to the format’s inherent sustainability credentials. At Crown, we have also prioritized resource efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and use of renewable energy to further drive down our environmental impact. Another key area of advancement lies in lightweighting. This process enables us to produce more cans with the same material and for resources to be used more efficiently, as energy consumption is reduced downstream in the supply chain.

Globally, we have continued to make strides in reducing the thickness of can walls and ends without sacrificing container performance or the critical barrier and strength properties that our customers demand. Our efforts have achieved a 3% global average reduction in our standard 12 oz. or 330 ml can weight in 2020 alone. The impact of lightweighting cannot be understated. For example, Metal Packaging Europe (MPE) reports that CO2 emissions from the production of aluminum drink cans in Europe decreased by an average of 31% from 2006 to 2016, largely thanks to reductions in the amount of material required to make cans. Today, the walls of aluminum beverage cans are as thin as a human hair.

Lightweighting plays a critical role in our Twentyby30 sustainability program. As part of our Optimum Circularity pillar, we are committed to reducing packaging materials use by making our aluminum cans 10% lighter in weight by 2030 (compared to a 2019 baseline). Our product stewardship strategy, realized through our Never Compromise pillar, helps us realize this commitment. We devote at least 50% of our Research & Development technology developments toward minimizing the footprint of our products and manufacturing processes and will continue to explore how to lighten aluminum packaging by reducing the gauge required to fabricate beverage cans and ends while also protecting performance.