The Comeback of the Beverage Can Continues
Hardly any packaging material has experienced such a strong back and forth since the 1990s as the beverage can. For several years, it suffered from a poor image with usage figures falling to an extremely low level, but in the past almost 20 years it has made a comeback. Beverage manufacturer Rhodius feels the upswing and has now expanded its filling capacities.
The beverage can is experiencing an upswing that was not to be expected after a significant low point in 2005. Demand is rising steadily, and, for investors, the market for beverage cans has also become more attractive again. Rhodius Mineralquellen und Getränke GmbH & Co. KG, one of the leading can fillers in Germany, is following this trend. The beverage producer and contract filler commissioned an additional new filling line with technology from KHS and a capacity of up to 99,000 cans per hour at the beginning of 2023. As a result of this in addition to the option for filling nine different can sizes and a wide variety of beverage types as well as the activation of the new logistics center in the fall, the Burgbrohl-based company sees itself as very well equipped. According to Sven Wustlich, head of the canning plant at Rhodius, customers not only benefit from the additional filling capacity: “In terms of quality, energy efficiency, and product as well as packaging variety, the new plant also allows us to meet our customers’ requirements even more individually.” This step would also strengthen the company’s position as a contract bottler.
Compulsory Deposit Led to Slump
Such a development was not expected at the beginning of the millennium. Environmental associations listed damage to nature caused by cans; buying a can was considered an environmental sin. The introduction of the can deposit followed in 2003, and sales plummeted from more than seven billion cans to around 300 million cans, according to figures from the Forum Getränkedosen Deutschland (FGD). The lowest sales level was 100 million cans in 2005. The campaigns by can producers and beverage manufacturers about the manageability of cans and the low price level were successful. A lot has also been done in terms of sustainability: the association advertises the low weight; three percent is accounted for by the packaging and 97 percent by the product. According to the most recent figures, the sales volume in 2019 was at around 3.95 billion cans, with an annual growth of around 500 million cans for the industry as a whole. Global Data Packaging reports growth of 6.8 percent in Germany in 2022, and the forecast for Western Europe in 2023 is 13 percent. Rhodius cites an annual production volume of 600 million, with the majority going to German and international partners in its role as contract filler.
Recycling Rate of 99 Percent
One reason for the plus is the significant improvement in the company’s image when it comes to sustainability. According to a report by Metal Packaging Europe and European Aluminum, the recycling rate in Europe was at73 percent at the end of 2022. This would represent a decrease of three percentage points compared to 2019, while can consumption would increase by nine percent. According to the FGD, the recycling rate of aluminum cans in this country is 99.1 percent. The Federal Environment Agency reports that beverage cans had a market share of 5.7 percent of depositable disposable products in 2020, an increase of 0.5 percentage points. Figures on the changes resulting from the new Packaging Act of January 1, 2022, are not yet available.
Good Eco-Balance Supports Demand
At Rhodius, those responsible believe they are well prepared for the higher sustainability requirements. Since 2018, they have been able to reduce CO₂ emissions by more than 34 percent, they say. “The eco-balance of the can and its popularity with consumers are closely related. Consumers want an environmentally friendly and practical product for their everyday lives. The beverage can picks up precisely at this junction and will therefore continue to play a leading role in the beverage industry in the future,” says Hannes Tack, Managing Partner of Rhodius Mineralquellen und Getränke.