Benefits and Significance of Aluminum Cans
By Optimus Prime on Jan 10, 2011 8:18
A special look into the world of aluminum cans, as an industry, pastime and hobby.
Whether you’re a child sipping away the fruitiest of fruit juices, or a teenager enjoying a cold cola, and of course an adult ready to have a party with a 6-pack, you just love snapping open a can!
That’s right; while the drinks themselves may not have anything else in common, the cylindrical aluminum cans with the glossy logos and pictures are used for all of them, save for a few variations in sizes. Nevertheless, it’s always fun when you snap the tab-top open to get a sip of your favorite drink.
Significance & Benefits
What’s appealing about drinks in aluminum cans is that they feel cooler than their bottled counterparts when refrigerated, so it almost feels like you’re touching the drink itself when you hold a can. Plus, not everyone finds bottles all that appealing, and beverage companies have discovered that aluminum cans are simpler and cheaper to produce than either plastic or glass bottles. This makes it an ideal choice for the beverage manufacturer.
Not only that, the aluminum can is resistant to corrosion and easily supports the pressure of carbonated soft drinks. Companies can also have a field day with the aluminum can’s shiny outer finish to add a gallery worth of full-body graphic and decorative printing. This is most helpful as the product needs to attract the attention of a large number of customers in a very competitive drinks market.
The origin of the can is traced back to around the early 1800s. However, cans were not used for beverages till after the 2nd World War. The U.S. government shipped large quantities of beer in steel cans to its soldiers overseas. While most beer was sold in bottles after the war, the returning soldiers still had a nostalgic addiction for cans. Unfortunately, steel cans were a lot more expensive to produce than glass bottles. It wasn’t until the late 50s and early 60s that the first beer in aluminum cans were sold.
Several major beverage manufacturers, if not all of them, market and promote their products in aluminum cans for their broad appeal. An estimated 95% of all juices, soft drinks including cola & lemon, and other non-alcoholic beverages in USA are packed & sold in aluminum cans. Statistics from aluminum can producers in America show an annual production of nearly 100 billion aluminum cans for beverages. That’s a ratio of one can per American per day!
The other fun part of aluminum cans for beverages is the interactive tab-top. This is generally a small ring on top with a small aluminum tab that covers an easy opening to the aluminum can for consumption. The most popular is the pull-tab version (also known as ring pull in Britain), which has a ring attached for pulling and the tab comes off completely to be disposed of. Another one is the stay-on tab, which was designed to minimize litter caused by removable tabs. In this, a ring is present, but instead of pulling it off, the ring is pushed down to depress a scored part of the lid, which then folds underneath the top of the aluminum can to create an opening.
Beverage drinkers find the taste of a drink from an aluminum can to be somewhat different from those in glass or plastic bottles. There is also a concern that there might be trace deposits of aluminum in the fluid contained inside, which can be harmful to the drinker's health. It is recommended to check the exterior of the aluminum cans for the expiry date and avoid consumption if the date has passed. However, scientific consensus has confirmed that aluminum cans do not cause any disease, particularly Alzheimer’s.
Also, while aluminum cans are normally cylindrical in shape, they still pose a serious hazard if broken or crumpled. The walls of an aluminum can are as thin as .09 millimeters. In this case, these cans are easily crumpled and can be torn easily when empty. Crumpled aluminum cans create sharp & jagged edges that can cause painful cuts.
In spite of the above concerns, the aluminum cans still has several benefits even after the beverage is consumed. Aluminum cans are a popular item for recycling enthusiasts, and is currently the most valuable beverage container to recycle. A used aluminum can is easily recycled and put back on shelves in just 60 days. Producing new aluminum cans from recycled aluminum cans will consume 95% less energy than producing new ones. The aluminum industry pays out nearly $1 billion dollars for empty aluminum cans in the USA alone. This saves money for manufacturers from purchasing new raw materials for production.
Aluminum cans are also a popular item for hobbyists that are interested in using it for decorative art-building. Items such as lanterns, small partition walls, etc are frequently built out of used aluminum cans.
With such a long history and broad appeal, it’s no wonder that the aluminum can is so well loved amongst the public. It’s also a popular option for beverage companies that find aluminum cans a cost-effective and highly marketable medium to promote their products.