Heavyweight vs. Featherweight: Steel vs. Aluminum
As e-commerce and pre-packaged goods continue to grow in popularity, manufacturers are starting to re-imagine disposable boxes and shy away from single-use cardboard and plastics to decrease their environmental impact. It’s no secret that consumers are consistently looking for products that are more sustainable, and because of this, packaging companies have opted to use materials such as aluminum and steel instead.
As consumers continue to focus on the environmental impacts of shipping goods, we thought it would be beneficial to compare the two metals to see which one is actually best for both the environment and the economy.
When choosing a material that is the most environmentally friendly, manufacturers will first and foremost opt for material that can be reused. While steel does have a strong recyclability rate, aluminum is at the top of the recycling chain as it can 100% recycled without there being any damages to its durability and quality. In fact, more than two-thirds of all aluminum ever produced in the world is still in use today, according to the Aluminum Association.
Recycled aluminum is also far less expensive to purchase, allowing manufacturers to by materials that are both environmentally friendly and low in cost without sacrificing the quality of material. Additionally, the process of recycling aluminum requires less energy and time compared to the process of recycling steel.
Since more consumers are opting to shop online, more goods are needing to be transported. As this trend continues, manufacturers are looking for packaging materials that can be easily transported. Choosing a material that is light, while still remaining durable, allows manufacturers to maximize the amount of goods that can shipped at once. As weight is an important factor to consider in the packaging world, aluminum outperforms steel once again, as aluminum is 2.5x less dense than steel. As a lighter product, it is easier for manufacturers to handle and is less expensive to ship.
When it comes to which metal has the best corrosion rate, aluminum is the clear winner because it doesn’t rust easily. In contrast, steel rusts at a quicker rate and requires an extra coating of either paint or some other finishing treatment to ensure the metal does not degrade. This factor is extremely important for manufacturers in the packaging industry as many goods sent across the world are subjected to environments that are moist or abrasive, which can cause steel to corrode quickly.
- Consumer Preference
According to a report from CCL, aluminum packaging has always been the container of choice for consumers when shopping. Aluminum gives brands the ability to adopt unique shapes and innovative designs while simultaneously creating the impression of exclusive quality. Brands are able to offer stunning decorative solutions by using aluminum, which grab consumers’ attention.
Aluminum’s superior qualities in recycling, durability and design make it the number one choice for manufacturers when choosing which packaging material to utilize. Although steel is a better choice over plastic and cardboard, manufacturers looking for a long-term solution to their sustainable and economical packaging needs will have a much better outcome by choosing aluminum over steel.
At CCT, we are thrilled to be unveiling our new aluminum product in the next few weeks, which will help brands and manufacturers achieve their goal of successfully switching to more sustainable packaging solutions.