MCMA conference highlights metal cans as a sustainable option

MCMA hosted a conference on 10 June at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon. The conference spotlighted how brands can take a look at metal cans as a sustainable option for the packaging industry.

13 Jun 2022 | By Mansi Gupta

The MCMA seminar highlighted how metal packaging is sustainable and it could replace plastic packaging

Speaker after speaker who spoke during the sustainable packaging sessions highlighted the importance of metal can containers in sustainable packaging since it impacted the environment and boosted the bottom line.

Sanjay Bhatia of MCMA said, during the pandemic, there was a preference for sustainable packaging. He pointed out the opportunities for packaging of food products for longer shelf life; also surge in the use of sanitisers, and disinfectants in aerosol cans. He explained how can-makers have adopted environment friendly technologies in the process.

Bhatia was speaking during a seminar which comprised Pritee Chaudhary, FSSAI Director west region; Dr KU Methekar, deputy director, FSSAI; Ravi Purbhe, manager - application engineer, Henkel; Damien Fourcade, manager - sustainability, Henkel, AVPS Chakravarthy, global ambassador, WPO; Santosh Panda, senior packaging manager, Britannia; P Anand, vice president - marketing and sales, TCIL and Ashwani Sharma, vice president, marketing and sales, JSW Steel.

With climate change on the rise, sustainability has become a focus for many industries. Preeti Chaudhary, FSSAI director, west region said, "Brands need to follow the 3S- safety, sustainability and suitability.”  

Chaudhary spoke about carbon footprint and its role in the ecosystem. She further added that industries need to create awareness among consumers to reduce their carbon footprints.

AVPS Chakravarthi, the global ambassador of the World Packaging Organization said, “There are many alternatives that have been launched. Exceeding the stringent EU regulations, these alternatives guarantee a high level of food safety.”

Chakravarthi further added, “A survey shows that people demonstrate their behaviour in line with their values. Today, 70% of the consumers are aware of the environment, and 66% are clear that they will consider purchasing eco-friendly products. And, 86%  of the younger demographic, age 18 to 44 are willing to pay more for sustainable products.”

The seminar helped delegates realise how metal packaging should become a priority to help curb the growing consumer needs. 

Dr KU Methekar, deputy director, FSSAI described various regulations passed by the FSSAI in 2018. Methekar spoke about the approved material list where he said "Metal and metal alloys intended to come in contact with food products falls in Schedule II. Schedule I, II and III of these regulations shall be compatible with their intended use as a packaging material so as not to alter the quality and safety of the food product."

Dr KU Methekar on FSSAI regulations

Santosh Panda, senior packaging manager, Britannia spoke about how the flexible packaging industry is looking into metal being a better alternative. He even added, "This is a perfect time, metal packaging can and should replace a handsome chunk of plastic packaging."

A 2018 survey showed that 82.5% of steel packaging can be recycled. This only helps brands understand how far the metal industry has come. While at one point surface printing and weight may be the issue, it became more user-friendly over the years. 

Ashwani Sharma, vice president, marketing and sales, JSW Steel said there are clear trends in the next few years. The trends include e-commerce, changing consumer needs and sustainability. Sharma added that there are investors who would only invest in companies that showcase visible environment standards.  

While each brand is doing its share of work- P Anand, vice president, marketing and sales, TCIPL, Tata, said, how industries need to collaborate, create partnerships, and maintain advocacy. 

He added how the government and policymakers are seeking inputs from industry experts to help with waste management. Anand concluded by saying “Awareness comes from communication, we need to come together as a single entity.”

Damien Fourcade, manager of sustainability, Henkel and Ravi Purbhe, manager of application engineer, Henkel;  said packaging meets complex requirements. Either from design, and recyclability of materials to new products, and application features such as refill stations. It is clear that a functioning circular economy requires holistic solutions along the value chain. They mentioned how the food processing industry is on the rise with requirements - and how tinplate containers are catering to packing fruit juices, cut vegetables & fruits, meat products, fish, dairy items etc.

The seminar concluded with everyone agreeing that the metal can industry in India is playing a crucial role. The main reasons are, “multiple portion sizes, incredibly robust and strong barrier properties which ensure cans can keep food fresh for longer as well as preserve food quality, vitamins and nutrients for as long as five years.”