The demand for can-packed products would sharply rise, given the increasing emphasis on recycling and sustainable solutions, said Amit Lahoti, VP and GM, India and Southeast Asia, Ball Beverage Packaging.
Pointing out that the per capita can consumption in India is one per annum while it is 70 in Vietnam and about 40 in China, he said consumer behaviour and safety concerns in the wake of the pandemic were fuelling demand for aluminium cans in India.
Ball Beverages Packaging India is a unit of American multinational Ball Corporation and supplies aluminium cans for FMCG, soft drink and beer companies.
“There is increased awareness around how plastic packaging is adversely affecting marine life, polluting the rivers and oceans and ending up as non-degradable heaps of waste at landfills. More Indians are now purchasing items based on social responsibility, inclusiveness and environmental impact,” he added.
“COVID-19 has increased consumer awareness and commitment to buying sustainable products,” he added.
To cater to the growing demand the company is expanding its packaging offering to various other segments such as sparkling water, wine and alcoholic drinks such as whiskey, rum and vodka.
A well-known whiskey brand has been introduced in a 180 ml aluminium can and such packaging is being expanded to other brands and more markets.
“Alcohol in 180 ml cans was recently introduced in Rajasthan [by a prominent spirits company]. We are looking to expand that into various other states,” Lahoti said.
“We have also worked on our technology around coatings inside the cans to enable us to package wine in cans. A small serving in a can is always convenient,” he said, adding that two companies had introduced their wine in cans in India and also used the same for exports.
“The other category that we have looked at is chilled water. This is targeted at premium locations where drinking water is being sold at ₹50-60 a bottle,” he added.
The current market size for aluminium beverage cans is ₹1,500 crore per year and the annual market size for new categories such as spirits is estimated at ₹360 crore.
According to company data, on a per-litre beverage basis, emissions associated with transporting and cooling aluminium cans are 7-21% lower than for plastic bottles and 35-49% lower than for glass bottles, [depending on the size of the comparative bottles as well as the types of refrigerators] in which the beverage is cooled prior to consumption.
On a per container basis, the associated emissions of beverage packaged in a 12-ounce aluminium can is 45% lower than in a 12-ounce glass bottle and 49% lower than in a 20-ounce plastic bottle when delivered and chilled, in small markets and convenience stores as per comparative studies conducted by the company.
Stressing that aluminium retains its value throughout the recycling process and can be repurposed into different products again and again, Lahoti said aluminium, after being used as a beverage can, can be used in making a car, a laptop or a bicycle and can even be recycled as a new can.
“75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Metals do not lose quality while recycling aluminium reduces the energy required to produce aluminium,” he said.