Crown Food Europe is one of Europe’s leading producers of packaging solutions for food. The company has recently published a whitepaper which outlines how steel and other metals can help to reduce the social and environmental costs of food waste. Crown believes that involving steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products earlier in the design process can help to create innovative packaging solutions which are attractive to consumers and easier for them to use while minimising costs for canmakers and fillers. And encouraging consumers to choose steel packaging is one of the best ways to make a positive impact on food waste.
In collaboration with Crown, the University of Delaware (USA) conducted research into the effects of metal packaging on food waste. The research discovered that metal cans alone reduce the amount of food waste by a billion litres annually when compared to food packaged for refrigeration or freezing.
Steel is an ideal material for cans, as Lorena Osella-Rocher, food business marketing manager for Crown Food Europe explains: “The most important is the properties of the steels we use. ArcelorMittal’s range of steels for packaging allow us to meet all consumer needs, from single portions to family formats. And these steels offer excellent functionality. The cans we make must protect the quality of the food inside and endure the high temperature – up to 300°C – of the preservation process.”
Creating a strong and durable food can starts with selecting the right steel
That means all produce from the field, including ’ugly’ or misshapen fruit and vegetables, is processed and canned at its peak nutritional value. And the can will retain the food’s vitamins and minerals over the long-term, without the need to use energy during storage. “Steel’s toughness enables cans to withstand the rigours of logistics, handling, and shelving, and makes them easily accessible anywhere,” notes Lorena Osella-Rocher. “These factors are key to reducing food waste, and global hunger.”
Even misshapen or ‘ugly’ vegetables and fruit can be used
The Crown whitepaper stresses that the recyclability of steel cans is important for consumers and notes that approximately 80 percent of the metal ever produced is still in use today. But despite their concerns over the environmental impact of packaging, many consumers are unaware that steel is easily extracted from waste streams with a magnet, fully recycled to create new steel products, and that this process can be repeated almost indefinitely.
“Crown is continuously working with steel producers such as ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products to change consumer perceptions of cans,” says Lorena Osella-Rocher. “Together we work through local associations in Europe to promote the use of metal packaging. Changing consumer perceptions is a long-term project. But the choice the consumer makes in the supermarket has the biggest impact on changing the decisions that brands and fillers make when it comes to packaging materials.”
Innovation in can design is helping to make steel packaging more attractive to consumers. “Easy-open-ends ensure that people can access the food easily – and with less spillage than traditional ends,” says Lorena Osella-Rocher.
Lightweighting is another area where Crown and ArcelorMittal are working closely. “Consumers realise that thinner steel creates lighter cans – which is good for the environment,” notes Lorena Osella-Rocher. “The lighter cans are more sustainable, but a lot more technical support is required by fillers and canmakers such as Crown. And this is where ArcelorMittal’s technical expertise becomes invaluable.”
Consumers understand that thinner steels create lighter cans and are better for the environment
“The lighter cans are more sustainable, but a lot more technical support is required by fillers and canmakers such as Crown. And this is where ArcelorMittal’s technical expertise becomes invaluable.”
ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products has deployed a Resident Engineer to support Crown. “That person helps us to identify the best steels and processing parameters for each packaging challenge,” says Lorena Osella-Rocher. “The Resident Engineer provides synergies we could not achieve otherwise.”
Crown encourages its customers to involve manufacturers such as ArcelorMittal early in the creation of a product notes Lorena Osella-Rocher: “Working together, ArcelorMittal and Crown can provide guidance, expertise, and help to our customers. Brands get the opportunity to utilise ArcelorMittal’s skills when it comes to the functional development of the packaging while keeping costs down. We get a better outcome and it is more efficient for everyone. , And by providing the right sized can for the right product –using a recyclable material –we are helping to reduce food waste.”
© Crown Food Europe
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