By Dr. Cameron Chai
The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) has successfully completed and revealed the results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) on the European tinplate production.
One of the results is that the steel packaging industry in Europe has minimized carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 9% in two years. It is estimated that over half of the CO2 emissions resulting from production can be reduced if tinplate is recycled and reused. This process is already a standard practice in the European Union, where the tinplate recycling rate has reached an average of 71% in 2010. With 71% of tinplate recycling, CO2 emissions are now decreased by 42%.
It is essential to understand the environmental impact of the product’s entire life cycle in order to enhance steel packaging and make it more environmentally friendly. Hence, a comprehensive study on the environmental impact of tinplate production has been commissioned by APEAL. The study also reveals that tinplate production has decreased acidification by 6%, eutrophication by 11% and primary energy demand by 3%.
At present, manufacturing of 1 kg of tinplate leads to 2.33 kg of CO2 emissions. The amount is equivalent to carbon emissions from a car, which run a distance of 16 km. The steel industry focuses on a tinplate product’s complete life cycle to further enhance the sustainability benefits of steel for packaging application. Philip Buisseret, APEAL’s Managing Director, stated that if the recycled rate of tinplate is higher, then there will be huge savings on raw materials, energy, water and CO2 emissions.