Did you know that metal packaging can recycle forever?

It is a permanent material and the perfect example of a circular economy at work!

Metals are natural elements that maintain their physical properties forever. Once metal enters the material-to-material loop, in which it is recycled again and again, it will always be available for future generations.

This means metal is a permanent material.

South Africa’s metals packaging collection rate has consistently been one of the highest of all packaging streams, sitting at approximately 65 % for the past few years. However, the industry has set itself the task of increasing this figure to 71 % within the next few years. For this reason, it is important for the metal packaging industry to target schools with the message about the importance of recycling and their contribution towards building a circular economy.

What is metal packaging?

Metal packaging, made from aluminium or steel, is used throughout the retail, wholesale, commercial and industrial sectors. It comes in many shapes and sizes and can package virtually any product.

What are the benefits of metal packaging?

Metal packaging is a great choice for fillers and brand owners. Cans have a proven safety record and offers a multitude of design options and an unrivaled performance through the supply chain.

Material flow analysis for aluminium beverage cans

One of the main focus areas for Metpac-SA in the first half of Year 1 has been on high volume / high value used beverage cans (UBC) as a separate category, and which will also be reported on as a separate category to DFFE.

To understand the broader market dynamics, a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) was undertaken in 2021 to assess the current flow of aluminium beverage cans in the South African market. The analysis included flows from the manufacture of beverage can metal coils to its end-of-life and recycling. Metpac-SA has continued with the MFA in 2022 using member data and the results of the first 6 months are presented in the diagram below:

There are, however, still significant gaps in terms of the accuracy of some of the data that has been collected e.g., exports. MetPac-SA continues to pursue various avenues of data collection to provide a higher degree of accuracy.

Recycled content and collection data will be provided more accurately as this is only calculated on an annual basis. The MFA for 2022 is therefore provided as an approximate as corrections and adjustments may need to be made to the data after Year 1.

Studies like the MFA provide a firm baseline from which to work from. Building on this information will continue throughout the implementation of EPR over the next 5 years. Due to the complexity of the tinplate/ferrous value chain and packaging being such a small percentage of metal recycling it will not be possible to develop an MFA for tinplate/ferrous.

Estimated amount of South African metal packaging stakeholders

Beverage Cans

A drink can, sometimes known as a beverage can, is a metal container with a fixed capacity for liquids including carbonated soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, teas, herbal teas, energy drinks, etc.

Caps, Closures and Crowns

Crown caps are widely used as container closures, particularly for glass beverage bottles like those used for soft drink and beer. Crown caps are made out of a circular piece of metal with a bent edge that resembles a crown and a sealing inlay.

Foil Trays

Aluminium foil food containers are food safe, making them ideal for single-serving meals or tiny add-ons such as rice, mashed potatoes, or salads. They are popular in the catering sector and frequently used in the food manufacturing industry.

Food Cans

A thin metal container for the distribution or storage of commodities is known by several different names, including steel can, tin can, tin package, and can.


Food preserved in specialty cans retains its flavor and freshness while maintaining its color and texture. They provide hygiene, which reduces health issues brought on by food contamination. These environmentally friendly cans are recyclable and reusable.

Tin Pac Packaging

Currently, many products are packaged in tin-plated cans. Tin plating is a procedure that coats iron or steel components with tin to create these cans. As a result, tin-plated cans contain only about 1 to 2% tin.

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