You probably don’t know it, but every time you take a sip from a can of soda, or open up a can of Campbell’sÃ?Â© soup, you are enjoying the benefits of aluminum. That’s right, it makes up an integral part of our lives but we give it very little recognition. Well today we’re going to discuss the miracle that is the aluminum can. It’s important to take notice at the impressive history of the aluminum can. There are actually three very important events in the life of aluminum cans that should be noted: the birth, the renovation, and the effective environmental benefits that come from aluminum can packaging. It’s hard to believe, but the can has been around for more than 200 years!
When the French government needed to find a new and more productive way to preserve food, they set up a contest to see who could take on the task. With a prize of 12,000 francs going to the person who could come up with a successful idea, people jumped at the opportunity. Someone finally came to the conclusion to bottle food much in the way that wine was. Thus, the first method of “canning” began (This History of Can Making 1). Actually though, food was stored in glass bottles rather than cans but this soon paved the way for what we see today.
Upon hearing of the French notion of food preservation, a man named Peter Durand innovated the notion of bottle storage to include using metals, such as tin. Durand noticed that the tin didn’t break as easily as glass, and replaced the often times unreliable cork. In 1813 the first canning facility was established. Although only a trial issues, canned goods were shipped to soldiers and sailors all over the British Empire.
The tin can expanded rapidly over the next several years. The era of colonialism marked a real necessity for adequate preservation of food and drink. The tin can remained the predominant method of preservation for around 150 years. In 1965, the world saw the first aluminum can. The aluminum can made packaging even easier because it was of simpler design – a side, top, and bottom. To marketers and businesses, it was a real innovation. The aluminum can allowed businesses to put their labels, emblems, and content information all around the can in a 360o design. However, this didn’t have much mass appeal. And until 1985, most of the beverage and brewery companies hadn’t accepted the aluminum can. But since then, aluminum cans have dominated the beverage market and changed the way we think about product packaging (The History of Can Making 1).
There are several key reasons why the aluminum can has been so successful is the ease in which it can be used. Aluminum metal is highly ductile, which means it can be structured and formatted in many different ways, this makes it easy to mold into the cylindrical shapes that hold our Sprite, Pepsi, Budweiser, and Heineken. This high ductility also allows producers to package their beverages in creative ways. One of the more recent innovations has been the Heineken Keg can, which has been a bestseller for Heineken, USAÃ?Â©. Another advantage of aluminum is its inability to rust; tin, which is highly susceptible to rust, doesn’t last as long and can pose health hazards when the metal has begun oxidation (The History of the Aluminum Can 3). Aluminum is also extremely light-weight, if you take a sheet of tin compared to a sheet of aluminum, you will notice the aluminum is much lighter-due to its extremely low density (Aluminum Can Recycling 2).
Probably the biggest reason for the success of the aluminum can is its ability to be recycled. With the environment only becoming a serious concern for people in the last 40 years, extensive research has gone into finding ways to get more out of natural resources, preserve our environment, and find cleaner ways to do it. Aluminum has a 100% recycling factor which is what makes it so great. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the recyclable potential of aluminum cans was brought to the attention of the people.
Soon, recycling became an essential part of daily life. We routinely separate our cans from our plastics, glass, paper, and cardboard. Among all recyclable materials, aluminum is the most efficiently and easily reused compared to its counterparts. In fact, over 60% of aluminum cans are recycled and made into new cans for usage (The History of Can Making 4). Aluminum can recycling helps save over two-billion pounds of used aluminum every year from the land fill. Some other important environmental aspects:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ One pound of aluminum can create 29 cans.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ 99% of all beer cans and 97% of all soft drink cans are made of recycled aluminum.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ In 1994, aluminum only made up 1.5% of all solid waste in U.S.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ In 1995, the amount of energy saved from recycling aluminum cans was enough to power the city of Pittsburgh for six years (Recycling: Aluminum Facts)!
Overall, the benefits of aluminum can recycling on the environment are invaluable. It helps preserve natural resources, energy, time, and money. As the most recycled resource we use, it represents a positive effect on both the ecology and economy. As we look to the future, we look for more ways to preserve our precious natural resources and use them even more efficiently. Since the dawn of the technological age, we’ve been able to increase environmental efficiency 300% (Recycle: Aluminum Can Facts 1).
The aluminum can is an item most of us take for granted everyday. It has become the predominant method of packaging for both beer and soft drinks across the industrialized world. From its humble introduction to the modern version, the aluminum can has restructured the way we package, market, and consume beverages. There is no way we can fully comprehend what this highly valuable element brings to our lives; however, we can always look to the future and see what other purposes aluminum can perform in our daily lives.