The Ultimate Recycling of Tin Cans

In the past few months, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, a subsidiary of Germany’s thyssenkrupp Steel Europe and one of the three major steel production giants in Europe, and Swiss packaging supplier Hoffmann Neopac have successively released news, as two As a result of a pilot project jointly carried out by the authors, the tin-plated iron used in the Recyclan (recycled cans) is all recycled iron from household packaging, and the packaging can also be recycled an unlimited number of times. This not only pushes the recycling and regeneration of iron cans to the extreme, saving valuable basic resources and energy consumption such as iron ore, coking coal, limestone, etc., but also marks the iron cans with the organic food green packaging credit label, making the strict requirements and sales Customers of organic products get their wish.

According to thyssenkrupp Rasselstein’s official website, the company has a history of more than 250 years, producing cold-rolled tin-plated or chrome-plated steel sheets with a thickness of 0.100~0.499mm. The annual output of packaging steel is about 1.5 million tons, and its applications include food cans, beverages Cans, aerosol cans, paint cans, and various metal cap products like crown caps and screw caps.

Tin Plated Iron Packaging: One of the Most Environmentally Friendly Sustainable Packaging

For many years, tin-plated iron has been regarded as an excellent packaging material for organic food, coffee, tea, candy, dry or paste cosmetics and other care products due to its good content protection properties. At the same time, one of the biggest advantages of tin-plated iron packaging is that it can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality such as strength, making it more common than other packaging materials.
Can Recycling: Closed Material Cycle Globally, packaging iron is typically made from natural raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal, limestone, and recycled scrap iron. One of the properties of steel is that it can be melted repeatedly and processed into new steel products. Another feature is that iron is magnetic, and once collected for recycling, magnets can be used to separate steel packaging from other waste very easily and quickly during picking.

Therefore, it can be said that if iron cans are well classified and processed today and enter the recycling system, they may become parts of bicycles tomorrow, and may also become part of automobiles the day after tomorrow. Even tin-plated iron produced decades ago, if it has been in a closed material cycle, will still appear on newly produced steel products. According to WV Stahl calculations, 84% of the previously produced steel is still being recycled.
In addition to being used as a component of the aforementioned automobiles and rails, the iron cans can also be made into iron cans after regeneration. The concept of Recycan is said to have been conceived by Hoffmann Neopac in response to a customer request, through cooperation with supplier partner thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, and finally proposed a “recycling of tin-plated iron waste from household packaging, such as metal cans, crown caps, claw type screw caps to make new food jars” idea. Mark Aegler, CEO of Hoffmann Neopac, said that in Europe, North America and other developed markets, tin-plated iron cans are synonymous with “environmentally sustainable” due to their ability to regenerate in a well-established recirculation stream.

Domestic and foreign situation of tin-plated iron packaging recovery rate Data from the British Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) shows that metal packaging is the most recycled packaging material in Europe, with a recycling rate of 82.5% for steel packaging. In Germany, the recycling rate of tinned iron packaging has exceeded this level for ten consecutive years, and even reached 90.4% in 2018 (data from GVM).

In my country, household tin-plated iron packaging has been facing the dilemma of “rejection by scavengers and low recovery rate” for a long time. Only in 2019, the two milk powder giants, Mead Johnson and Nestlé, successively launched milk powder can recycling programs, aiming to help the circular economy and eliminate the potential safety hazards caused by the recycling of waste cans by informal channels. The driving effect of tin-plated iron packaging recycling remains to be seen.

RecyCan: From household waste tin-plated iron packaging to new tin cans for new purposes, pushing the recycling of tin-plated iron packaging to the extreme

Generally speaking, all tinplate cans contain some amount of recycled iron. Made from 100% recycled tin-plated iron, the RecyCan product line takes tin-plated can recycling to the extreme, a way to maximize the recycling of consumer steel packaging without compromising the appearance and contents of the packaging. A full-cycle way to protect performance, while packaging can be recycled almost infinitely, the label effect of green packaging goes without saying.

Seven steps of the full cycle method for tinned iron packaging In a nutshell, RecyCan’s idea is to remelt steel packaging waste from households into molten steel, which is then processed through a complex system to produce new food cans tin plate, and finally into new food cans.

Take a milk powder can as an example, its original role was to protect infant formula. After the milk powder is used up, the milk powder can is collected along with other household recycling items. At the picking station, it can be easily separated from plastics and other metals with magnets, entering the recycling system along with other discarded household steel packaging such as lids, crown caps, etc. Then through the processes of chopping, pressing, cleaning, detinning, burning, melting, pouring, etc., it becomes a well-formed thick steel plate. It is then hot-rolled into coils, cold-rolled, tinned, cut into sheets, printed, and finally made into new consumer packaging cans, such as high-end organic coffee, so the new function allows the packaging to open a new life journey.

The first step is to collect waste cans, screw caps and crown caps from the household.

The second step is to separate the tinned iron packaging from the aluminum and plastic packaging with a magnet and chop.

The third step is to detin the scrap iron and then press it into squares.

The fourth step is to melt the iron block into molten steel, and then pour it into a thick iron plate.

The fifth step is to hot-roll, cold-roll, tin-plate, and cut the thick plate to become a tin-plated sheet for packaging.

The sixth step is to print on recycled tinplate, which is then made into a new tin can.

The seventh step is the retail and consumption of the canned product.

The above seven steps allow tin-plated iron packaging to be fully reused for packaging production, thus forming a closed journey of consumer packaging.

Advantages of RecyCan

According to the data, RecyCan’s cans are divided into three-piece, two-piece shallow-drawing or deep-drawing cans. It is said to have good light, air/oxygen and moisture barrier properties, which can preserve the flavor, nutrition and appearance of food; at the same time, it has obvious ecological advantages – not only saves the use of basic resources, but also consumes more energy than basic resources Production of new cans has been reduced by 60%; in addition, it meets EU food regulatory standards.