Environmentalists and beer lovers alike can raise their glasses in a toast: Aluminum manufacturer and recycler Novelis has unveiled an aluminum beverage can sheet that has been independently certified to contain a minimum of 90 percent recycled material. Red Hare Brewing Co. will be the first company to package its product in Novelis’ “evercan,” with the new high-recycled-content can expected to hit shelves in the southeastern U.S. later this month.
“This introduction marks the commercial availability of the world’s first certified high-recycled-content aluminum beverage can,” said Phil Martens, Novelis’ president and CEO, in a statement.
Red Hare chose the “evercan” product as part of its commitment to reduce the microbrewery’s environmental footprint, the company said on its blog.
“We were the first microbrewery in Georgia to package our craft beer in cans two years ago because aluminum cans have a much lower carbon footprint than glass bottles,” said Red Hare founder and CEO Roger Davis. “With the new ‘evercan,’ we are getting closer to full-loop recycling, which is the right thing to do for our planet. We are further reducing our environmental footprint while providing our loyal Red Hare fans with the portability, freshness and taste they love.”
The “evercan” is responsible for 72 percent fewer carbon emissions over its lifetime than glass bottles are and 22 percent few emissions compared to typical aluminum cans, according to Red Hare. Furthermore, the brewery said, recycling aluminum requires 95 percent less energy and produces 95 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than mining and using virgin aluminum.
Three of Red Hare’s store brands – Long Day Lager, Gangway IPA and Watership Brown – will all be converted to “evercan” packaging through May and will be sold in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Novelis’ high-recycled-content can is currently available to beverage companies worldwide, the company said in a statement. Its facilities in North America, Europe, South America and Asia have been certified to produce the “evercan” by third-party environmental auditor SCS Global Services. The development of the “evercan” is part of Novelis’ goal to dramatically increase the recycled content of its products across its global operations to 80 percent by 2020.
Aluminum cans are one of recycling’s greatest – and quietest – success stories. They can be recycled back into the same product an infinite number of times: In fact, nearly 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute. Aluminum cans also boast one of the highest recycled content percentages among beverage containers – 68 percent – the trade group reports.
Yet you rarely hear news stories about this financially-sound and environmentally-responsible industry practice. Instead, media coverage tends to focus on the plastic bottle: Consumers assume plastic bottles are recycled back to plastic beverage containers, but the industry has been struggling to make this closed-loop recycling system a reality.
The recycled content of typical aluminum cans may be so robust that we can take this environmental triumph for granted, but now Novelis and Red Hare Brewing are raising the bar in their industry.
“Novelis’ ‘evercan’ is an excellent model for sustainability-based innovation, which will enable beverage brands and retailers to advance their own sustainable packaging goals,” said Stuart L. Hart, S. J. Johnson Professor Emeritus in Sustainable Global Enterprise at Cornell University, founder of the Enterprise for a Sustainable World and author of “Capitalism at the Crossroads.” “This introduction also serves as an important catalyst to educate other brand holders and consumers about the value of closed-loop aluminum recycling and engage them to take action themselves.”
Image credit: PRNewsFoto/Novelis Inc.
Passionate about both writing and sustainability, Alexis Petru is freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work has appeared on Earth911, Huffington Post and Patch.com. Prior to working as a writer, she coordinated environmental programs for Bay Area cities and counties. Connect with Alexis on Twitter at @alexispetru