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Add lightness for sustainability

If manufacturing must involve a carbon footprint, then Ardagh Group aims to tread as lightly as possible.

In combining new levels of sustainability with performance and customer benefits, Ardagh Metal Beverage Europe’s lightweight aluminium cans illustrate the way in which the company aims to lead by example – by investing in innovation which pays dividends in that most valuable of currencies, environmental savings.

As a global leader in the manufacture of metal and glass packaging, Ardagh is committed to pursuing policies that reduce its consumption of materials, minimise its emissions, and maximise the sustainability of its products. The aluminium used in Ardagh’s cans already has the advantage, of course, of being a ‘permanent material’ – one that can be infinitely recycled or reused without any loss in quality. However, by refining the manufacturing process, Ardagh has reduced the weight of its 33cl can by 7% across the majority of its plants, making it one of the most sustainable cans in the market today.

This innovation has been extended to the company’s 44cl and 50cl lightweight cans, creating the potential to save 3.3 million hectolitres of water in Ardagh’s production process, and to overall cut CO2 emissions by 28,000 tonnes. At the same time, the lightweight cans offer the same customer benefits as standard cans: they run as quickly along the filling lines; they’re equally able to withstand the pressure of carbonated drinks; and though they measure just 0.09mm at their most slender, the walls maintain the cans’ column strength. Just as importantly, the lightweight cans are compatible with the CDL end, which provides the same protective seal as a standard end but is 10% lighter, and therefore offers a further saving in resources in comparison to the previous end version.

Increasing efficiency by reducing weight but without compromising performance is not to be confused with cost-cutting, of course: finding material savings in an already well-honed design is an engineering exercise in which ‘adding lightness’ means making a heavy investment in product development, a process that has involved every stage of a lightweight can’s journey, from coil manufacturer to customer and on to the end-user. Even so, adding lightness is one way in which Ardagh is taking responsibility, and is only one part of a wider programme of measures by which Ardagh plans to meet its 2025 targets for the continued reduction of process water consumption, CO2, and VOC emissions, and its increasing rate of waste recycling.

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