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Bevcan on track to convert to aluminium

South Africa’s consumers will see exciting developments in the beverage market as aluminium cans are introduced to replace most of the traditional tin-plated steel beverage cans currently on the market.

‘Aluminium is already the preferred material internationally. Globally, 85% of all beverage cans are made from aluminium,’ explains Nampak Bevcan MD, Erik Smuts.

The new lines are capable of running eight can sizes and produce cans at speeds up to 3 000 cans/min compared to the current 1 600 steel cans/min.


‘The decision to move to aluminium-bodied cans was a natural progression owing to inherent advantages for the economy, the beverage industry, consumers and the environment,’ Erik adds.  

One benefit is the ability to hedge aluminium prices, making it a more stable commodity compared to steel where prices are more volatile. Aluminium also weighs 60% less than steel resulting in reduced transportation costs.   

The conversion to aluminium will also result in a significantly improved carbon footprint. Approximately 10% less energy is used in the manufacturing process as no external coating is required, only one bank of spray machines is used, only one oven is used and conveying in the production line is reduced by two thirds.   

Expansion at Bevcan’s Springs plant has already had a positive impact in the Ekurhuleni Metropolis, with more than 40 new jobs created with the first aluminium line installation; and a further two tinplate lines are to be converted to aluminium.

There are also environmental advantages as explained by Zimasa Velaphi, PR and marketing manager at Collect-a-Can: ‘The value of used aluminium cans is much higher than tin-plated steel cans, making it a more economically-viable option for informal can collectors, ultimately resulting in increased recycling volumes. Currently the South African recycling rate for used beverage cans is 72%, significantly higher than other beverage packaging formats.’

It’s estimated that between R100-million and R200-million a year will flow into the scrap metals and recycling industry, allowing an additional 2 000 to 3 000 people a source of income from collecting and selling used cans.

 

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