Megan DaumCan makers and their suppliers have been focusing on and prioritizing sustainability long before sustainability was a buzz word or a business strategy. In fact, sustainability and recycling have been part of the can manufacturing industry ever since the 1930s when recycling cans was fundamental for supplying metal to the war effort. The can manufacturing industry has built on its legacy of sustainability by committing to lightweighting, the minimization of water, energy and virgin material inputs, as well as the investment of millions of dollars into consumer recycling education programs. We’re proud to report that 105,800 cans are recycled every minute in the United States.

Food and beverage cans are endlessly recyclable, which means that every part of a can can be recycled again and again, forever. Cans are the most recycled food and beverage containers in the United States. In fact, nearly 75% of all aluminum and 80% of all steel ever produced is still in use today. Cans can be recycled and back on store shelves in as little as 60 days. This greatly reduces the amount of material going to landfills and keeps metal in an infinite loop.

As the financial and environmental costs of food waste continue to grow in the United States, we must look to packaging to provide safe and reliable solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited food waste as the single largest component of the landfill stream. A staggering 34 million tons of food is wasted each year. Cans help minimize food waste by providing the longest shelf life of any package and locking in the nutrition and freshness of products that are picked at the peak of ripeness. Food packed in cans is protected from air, germs and other factors that cause it to spoil. Less spoilage leads to less waste.

With increasing frequency, beer brewers are packing their carefully crafted products in cans, recognizing that cans best protect the quality and delicate flavors of beer by eliminating beer’s two greatest enemies: air and light. As of November 2013, almost 1,300 different beers from 365 breweries are being packed and sold in cans.

The can manufacturing industry is proud of its legacy of environmental stewardship, significant contributions to the reduction of food waste, and a long-commitment to delivering premium products, exactly as they are meant to be enjoyed. With the dedication and ingenuity of more than 33,000 employees in the United States, the can industry will continue to build upon its environmental record and will always provide consistent, reliable and delicious products to consumers.


Megan Daum is the vice president of sustainability at the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers.

 CMI is the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States. The can industry accounts for the annual domestic production of approximately 124 billion food, beverage and other metal cans; which employs more than 28,000 people with plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa; and generates about $17.8 billion in direct economic activity. Its members are committed to providing safe, nutritious and refreshing canned food and beverages to consumers. To learn more about cans, the sustainable and smart solution, visit: