Recycling and innovation: the main topics in the second day of The Canmaker Summit

On the second day of The Canmaker Summit, which took place in Prague, Czech Republic on Thursday 6 October, delegates heard the focus of presentations shift to recycling and how the industry may achieve circularity.

The day started with a presentation by Michael Mapes, chief executive officer at Trivium Packaging, who called on the industry to make the most of the war on plastics. According to Mapes, as everyone is looking for sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging, now is the time to position metal as the solution to brands’ challenges: “Let’s make cans cool again,” he urged. 

Mapes added that he supports the call for deposit systems for cans because the best way to “unleash the power of metal’s inherent circularity” is by increasing recycling rates. This view was backed by the second speaker of the day, Alexander Kuzan, vice president of Novelis’ can Europe department. 

Kuzan explained that Novelis is pushing for governments of countries with low recycling rates to introduce deposit systems. He also suggested that canmakers should consider using the same alloy to make can ends, bottoms and bodies, as this would have a knock-on effect on the quality of the scrap collected.

The conference programme followed with a presentation on deposit return schemes by Carey Causey, president of Ball Beverage Packaging for EMEA. Causey compared the advantages and challenges in the adoption of deposit systems in several countries, highlighting that the key for the schemes to work is to make them easy for consumers to use and fair by including all packaging materials.

She added that while the industry is doing well in terms of recycling rates and recycled content, “if we are not at 90%-85% [recycling rate] we are not where we should be”.

Chief executive of Portugal’s Colep Packaging, Paulo Sousa closed the morning presentations talking about new supply chain challenges in metal packaging. Sousa discussed how the changes in consumer behaviour, including an increased use of e-commerce platforms and demand volatility, affects the canmaking industry. He concluded that competitors should cooperate as a way to create value.

After lunch delegates were presented with two speakers who focused on exciting innovations. Head of research at Brasilata, Augusto França, talked about the Brazilian canmaker’s project to develop plasma as a method of treating surfaces to enable more efficient application of UV light to cure coatings.

Traditionally, thermal curing has been used for internal coatings, which is costly and generates emissions from the solvents used. França also shared details of the trials which have been carried out at the production line equipped with plasma generators installed in Brasilata’s Rio de Janeiro plant.

This year’s conference programme concluded with Pete Booth, principal consultant at UK design agency Tin Horse, who talked about how to deliver unique and motivating consumer propositions in metal. The presentation focused on the project developed for infant nutrition company ByHeart which won this year’s The Canmaker Cans of the Year Gold Award in the End, Caps and Closures category.

Established more than 30 years ago, The Canmaker Summit is expected to return to Scotland next year.

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