An independent research study commissioned by the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI,, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI,, reveals 65% of decision makers at Fortune 500 consumer product companies view packaging sustainability as a high priority. The survey was conducted by MindClick ( in January and February and included packaging decision makers from major consumer packaged goods companies.

The challenge for consumer products firms, according to the research study, is the lack of meaningful information available to evaluate and compare the sustainability performance of competitive packaging materials. Packaging executives define sustainability as the way individual materials contribute to the environmental and social story of products and brands. Key contributors to determining sustainability include recycling and the energy required to transport, store, use and dispose of the packaging. Secondary considerations include the greater societal, environmental and community impacts related to the materials themselves.

With an emphasis on performance, SMDI will launch a national education campaign to highlight the depth of steel's leadership in meeting the sustainability needs of the packaging industry. As the preferred packaging material for more than 1,500 variations of food, pet food, paint, household products, health and beauty products, steel is delivering compelling sustainability solutions to consumer brands. Steel saves energy, ensures safe nutritious food, minimizes food waste and increases economic efficiencies.


  • Across all markets, steel is the world’s most recycled material – more than all other materials combined.
  • Steel cans are the most recycled food package with a 71% recycling rate.
  • Steel food cans are more than 30% lighter than 25 years ago.

"Through the outreach effort, SMDI's Steel Packaging Council will highlight steel's role in meeting the sustainability needs of the packaging industry, while communicating the broader benefits of steel packaging," says Lawrence Kavanagh , president, SMDI. "With its recycling, reusability and package integrity, steel is clearly the preferred material for the packaging industry and this campaign will further increase the industry's awareness of these great benefits."

To initiate the campaign, SMDI has partnered with Barton Seaver , renowned chef, National Geographic Fellow, TED Speaker, and the new Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food program at Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Health and the Global Environment. Seaver will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming American Packaging Summit on March 26-27 in Chicago. Speaking to an audience of 150 senior packaging executives from leading consumer products firms, he will discuss the effects of packaging beyond the point of consumption.

The SMDI's steel packaging campaign will continue through 2013 with online education sessions for professionals, industry-wide surveys about steel packaging and viral videos that share the positive economic, environmental and social benefits resulting from the use of steel in consumer packaging. The group also will launch an educational website ( and present at future packaging industry events.