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Cans - Tried, tested, trusted

Universally regarded as safe and can be stored until they’re needed.

Cost effective and economical through the supply chain.

Convenient sizes mean less wastage.

Robust and safe to transport means less secondary packaging.

Preferred packaging material for potentially hazardous products.

Optimize paint filling lines efficiency.

Filled cans can be stacked as many as 6 pallets high bringing logistical cost savings.

Can Facts   Source Date

Storage temperature




Recycling rates determine carbon emissions 

  • Recycling rate is the percentage of cans on the market returned for recycling.
  • All cans returned for recycling are recycled.
  • Steel and aluminium can be recycled again and again without loss of quality.
  • More recycling means less CO2.
  • Used dry paint cans are fully recyclable.
Can Facts   Source Date

UK steel can recycling rate 2013




UK aluminium packaging recycling rate 2016




European steel can recycling rate 2015





European aluminium can recycling rate 2013




Compared to using virgin material every tonne of aluminium recycled saves bauxite

4 tonnes



Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of aluminium saves energy


Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of aluminium recycled saved greenhouse gas emissions


Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of steel recycled saves coking coal

0.5 tonnes



Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of steel recycled saves energy




Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of steel recycled saves water




Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of steel recycled saves greenhouse gas emissions




Compared to using virgin materials every tonne of steel recycled saves iron ore

1.5 tonnes



More Recycling of Cans Means Less CO2 

Currently there is no universal approach for the measurement of a carbon footprint.

A European carbon footprint model is available to trade association members.

The higher the recycling rate the higher the carbon saving. click here for chart

Metal operates in a ‘material to material’ loop – whether the material comes back in exactly the same product is not relevant.  This 'End of Life' approach most accurately reflects the emissions from metal Click here for the Material to Material Loop diagram

When recycled, the carbon (energy) embodied in a can will displace new energy in the steel and aluminium production processes - whether the end use is in the form of a car, bridge or can.

Embodied carbon is the carbon dioxide that is emitted at all stages of a good's manufacturing process, from the mining of raw materials through the distribution process, to the final product.

Life Cycle Assessment is the detailed assessment of the environmental effects of a process, product or service 'from cradle to grave'.  However the boundaries need to be carfully and clearly defined - where you start and finish, what is included, what is excluded, all have a major impact on the findings of an LCA and depend on the resources used for the study.  This can often lead to problems when two apparently similar studies are compared.

Metal used to make cans is produced from both virgin and recycled materials 

Recycled content for an individual can cannot be determined due to the homogeneous nature of the material (CEN Standards).

In Europe metal is on average produced from 50% recycled material.

Recycled content is the scrap steel consumed or secondary smelted aluminium as a percentage of total steel or aluminium production.

Can Facts   Source Date

Steel:recycled material used as a percentage of total production




Aluminium:recycled material used as a percentage of total production




Can Facts   Source Date

Over the last two decades the weight of steel cans has reduced by




Over the last two decades the weight of aluminium cans has reduced by




Energy saved from using scrap versus virgin raw material - steel




Energy saved from using scrap versus virgin raw material - aluminium




UK Packaging Waste Generated (industrial, commercial & household) - Total

10.8 million tonnes



High recycling rate reduces net weight to landfill 

Net weight to landfill is determined by the weight of the pack relative to its recycling rate.

Higher gross weight packs with high recycling rates may well reduce landfill.

All packaging is less than 3% of all solid waste and 60% is recovered and recycled. *

It is estimated that the combined weight of all UK made metal paint cans in the 3 core retail sizes (750ml, 2.5ltr and 5ltr) amounts to 12,300 tonnes of weight to landfill.

Local authorities already have the infrastructure in place to collect used metal paint cans and the steel producers want used metal paint cans back for the steel-making process. Consumer awareness needs improving. See Norfolk County Council How to Recycle Paint and Metal Paint Cans leaflet - click here.

MPMA and Dulux Paints are supporting an industry campaign to change this situation during 2009 with a joint aim to divert 6000 tonnes (50%) away from landfill by 2010. 

Probably more money invested in metal sustainability than any other packaging material


Can Facts   Source Date

UK investment in steel recycling and infrastructure over the past two decades



August 2012

UK investment in aluminium recycling and infrastructure over the past two decades



August 2012

On-going investment in European operational carbon reduction



August 2012

European research in future carbon reducing techologies



August 2012

Source data

ALUPRO - Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation
Represents the leading aluminium packaging producers and reprocessors in the UK. To ensure that packaging waste recycling targets are met through working with local authorities and other partners, and through public education. Alupro is also the body responsible for working with Government on policy issues. Website:

APEAL - Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging
A federation of multinational producers of steel for packaging in Europe, representing some 90% of the total European production of steel for packaging. Website

BCME - Beverage Can Makers Europe
Represents Europe's leading drinks can manufacturers to maximise market opportunities for the beverage can and proactively position and support the positive attributes and image of the can relative to other beverage packaging alternatives through coordinated marketing, environmental, legislative and technical initiatives. Website:

CFUK - Canned Food UK
An organisation that promotes the benefits of canned food. Its members include companies who produce material for cans and make metal cans, to the distribution and manufacture of canned food products. Website:

DEFRA - The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
A Government Department in the UK which aims to secure a healthy environment in which current and future generations can prosper. Website:

EA - Environment Agency
An Executive Non Departmental Public Body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Sponsored Public Body responsible to the National Assembly for Wales which aims to protect and improve the environment, and to promote sustainable development. Website:

EAA - European Aluminium Association
The European Aluminium Association represents the aluminium industry in Europe. It aims to secure sustainable growth of the market for aluminium ahilst maintaining & improving the image of the industry. Website:

EMPAC - European Metal Packaging Association
Represents the metal packaging industry in all the countries of the European Union

MPMA - Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association
Representing UK manufacturers of light gauge metal packaging

TSPR - Tata Steel Packaging Recycling
Tata Steel Packaging Recycling promotes steel packaging recycling to consumers, local authorities and the commercial sector, and offers an established end market for recovered used steel packaging.
For additional information on steel can recycling see: SCRIB - the Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau

* Refers to Packaging in Perspective prepared by the Advisory Committee on Packaging. 
Pdf version available
click here


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