Glass and aluminium groups upbeat to meet packaging needs

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Packaging

Production of glass and aluminium packaging within Europe is showing a positive turnaround amidst processor concerns over economic and environmental factors, according to their respective industries associations.

The use of glass in bottles, jars and flacons was up by four per cent in 2007 over the same period the previous year, according to the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE).

Meanwhile, deliveries of thinner gauge aluminium used primarily in flexible packaging fell by seven per cent during the first half of 2008, despite an overall fall in the rate of declining demand for the metal in the bloc, said the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).

With manufacturers facing growing pressures to ensure improved environmentally friendly manufacture and reduced packaging costs, both industries claim to be well placed to meet food and beverage industry needs.

Glass potential

Dominique Tombeur, president of FEVE, said the figures indicated a positive turnaround for the industry after years of stagnation, reflecting the strong potential for glass packaging in food, wine and cosmetics manufacturer.

“It sends an encouraging signal to the industry to keep investing in new furnaces and upgrades, new products and processes,”​ he stated.

Tombeur claimed that European interests in sustainable packaging materials will put glass in a unique position to meet the specific green needs of processors.

“Its 100 per cent recyclable credentials and its use of some of the earth’s most abundant raw materials – sand, soda ash and limestone – makes glass a very good story when it comes to environmental protection and contribution to combating climate change,”​ he stated.

European demand

In terms of demand over the year, the association said that Turkey and Portugal posted the strongest growth for glass container production with 12 and 18 per cent respectively.

Germany still remained the largest market in terms of volume though, producing 4m tonnes amounting to 20 per cent of the entire EU production of glass bottles and jars, the group added.

Similar buoyant demand in France and Italy saw an additional 3.5m tonnes of glass packaging produced in each nation, according to FEVE.

EAFA optimism

In terms of aluminium production, EAFA president Fred McDonogh said that although the current economic situation had led to a five per cent decline in European aluminium usage, the industry was still confident of future demand growth.

"The overall economic situation means that the general reluctance to consume is an unfortunate fact to which our customers and their customers have to adapt,”​ he stated. “However, the slight trend recovery in the second quarter underlines the optimism of the European aluminium foil industry for the rest of the year 2008."

Three quarters of aluminium foil is used for packaging purposes, particularly for flexible pack and container use, states the EAFA.

Euro pack comparisons

In Europe, by the end of this year, 50 per cent of all metal packaging in the bloc must be recycled, according to official targets. By the same deadline, 60 per cent of glass and paper packaging materials must be reclaimed, while 22.5 per cent pf plastics should also be recoverable, according to official papers.

The most recent official EU figures on packaging materials across all 25 member states - published in 2005 - found that metal recycling, both in terms of aluminium and steel, had increased marginally by 0.7 percentage points to 57.7 per cent compared to 2004.

While not related specifically on the food and beverage industry, paperboard remained the most recycled packaging material in the bloc overall, with rates climbing by 3.1 per cent to 73.5 per cent over the same time period.

Glass and plastics remained just behind their 2008 targets in 2005 at 59 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively.

Related topics Packaging & Design