Supporting the Transition of MENA’s Food & Beverage Sector to a Circular Economy Series (Part I of II)

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Monday, January 30, 2023

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are among the regions in the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As such, the Gulf countries face depleted freshwater resources within the next 50 years, while in some parts of the Middle East, average temperatures are increasing at a rate that is two-to-seven times faster than the global average. Driven by rapid economic and population growth, consumption and production patterns have further accelerated environmental degradation in the area.  

Acknowledging the importance of addressing climate change, the UAE government published a Circular Economy Roadmap from 2021 to 2031, calling on local governments, the private sector and the public to work together toward a sustainable consumption and production model. In addition, the MENA region’s environmental initiatives are under scrutiny following the UN Climate Change Conference COP27, which took place in Egypt in November 2022, and in light of COP28, which takes place in Dubai, UAE in 2023.

As one of the largest metal packaging suppliers to MENA, Crown is proud to support local food and beverage manufacturers on their sustainability journey. Recently, we gathered with industry leaders from across the region at the latest edition of the Future Food Forum in Dubai, UAE, to delve into challenges and opportunities amid a shift toward greener, more sustainable business models. 

In this two-part blog series, we explore how metal packaging can help MENA producers accelerate the development of a Circular Economy from the perspective of Sandrine Duquerroy-Delesalle, Director, Sustainability & External Affairs, Crown Bevcan EMEA.

Metal Packaging – A Key Enabler in the Transition to a Circular Economy

Metal packaging’s green credentials and superior properties in terms of product preservation and food safety are fundamental to creating a sustainable economy. Metal packaging is 100% and infinitely recyclable, making it a perfect fit for a circular model, in which products and materials are kept in use and preserved and waste is eliminated. In fact, it is possible for recycled aluminum cans to return to store shelves as new beverage cans in as few as 60 days. Aluminum beverage cans are already the most recycled drink package in the world, with a global recycling average of 69%, while containing the highest recycled material content over competing formats. These qualities help drive consumer preference for metal beverage cans.

In addition, metal packaging can help fight food waste – an important issue as almost one-third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted today. Metal packaging serves as a robust barrier to the intrusion of oxygen, light and bacteria, extending the shelf life of products and preventing premature spoilage. With sustainability goals gaining priority on business agendas, metal packaging can help food and beverage producers in the MENA region achieve their goals faster, advance circularity and align with government guidelines. 

Accelerating Toward the Net-Zero Goal 

MENA’s food and beverage manufacturers can still do more to propel the region to a greener future. For example, companies can strive to decrease their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and switch to renewable energy sources. They can also conserve water resources and ensure employees have access to clean water, as well as improve recycling rates and reduce waste. We’ll take a closer look at consumer preferences for metal packaging and how food and beverage brands can help support the region’s recycling strategies in part II of this series.

At Crown, we support many global initiatives that are paving the way toward carbon neutrality, including The Climate Pledge and RE100 — groups calling for all industrial sectors to do their part to slow the pace of climate change. As part of our pledge to advance our contribution to climate action, we have had our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). We are thrilled to share our progress toward our Twentyby30 sustainability program with our MENA partners and producers, and we urge them to submit GHGs reduction targets for approval by SBTi. Industry stakeholders are ideally placed to take ownership of their sustainability goals and to demonstrate their commitment to enacting practices discussed during the Future Food Forum.  

Look for our second post in this series for insights into MENA’s consumer demands and the importance of their education on recycling.