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What do Cadbury, M&S and Rolls Royce all have in common with the can, along with Sainbury’s, Clarks and Yorkshire Tea?

Answer: they’ve all been around a very long time.

Oh, and they’re all still right at the top of their game, constantly innovating and as relevant now as they were well over 100 years ago.

It’s hard to believe I grant, but sometimes people cite the can’s 200 year heritage with a groan, as if to say it’s past its best, a dinosaur, out of touch. 

Quite recently in fact, a comment was made in the media comparing the can unfavourably with a competitor packaging material on the basis that the can had been around for 200 years – as though nothing had changed in all that time and that we were still making individual cans by hand. Come on!

In an age where sustainability is a top concern with consumers, and young people in particular, the can outstrips all other forms of primary packaging.  It has the highest UK recycling rate at 78 per cent and a 100 per cent recycling rate is well within reach. And let’s not forget that eighty per cent of metal ever produced is still in circulation being reused over and over with no loss of quality.

Cans are also bang on trend with new products. Take Can-o-Water, with its resealable XO end. Not only does Can-o-Water provide a sustainable alternative to the ubiquitous plastic water bottle, a proven scourge to our oceans, but it also demonstrates the can’s scope for great design with standout shelf appeal, a benefit not lost on other beverage sectors such as craft beer.

And who could have imagined even twenty years ago that that cans could be given their own individual digital identity?  Well FACT organic flavoured sparkling water using CrownConnect technology does exactly that, and scooped a UK Packaging Award and the coveted Best in Metal title for its efforts.

Tata Steel’s Protact food concept cans have made food cans even more environmentally friendly and enable new shapes giving even greater creative scope to brand owners; while the development of digital printers for both flat sheet and rotary printing makes shorter print runs more economical.

It’s no accident that great brands and products remain for decades, even centuries.  It’s all down to innovation, achieved through continuous research, development and investment.

So next time you hear someone dismiss cans as out of date, reel off some comparable brands and products and ask them, what other form of packaging can they see still being around 200 years hence?

William Boyd
Director & CEO

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