Feb 09

Aluminium, the modern material

Posted by Packaging Sense in Trends | Uncategorized

Time has come to write about a material that I especially like at this time of the year, just before Christmas, because it glitters! It can even have a bling-bling effect when mixed with plastic, as for instance the Coca-Cola Christmas edition.

Before writing about branding and communication, which is the purpose of this site, here come some information for the technically interested reader about recycling, footprint and bauxite.

Aluminium became an industrial product at the end of the 19th century. It is a silvery-white, soft, non-magnetic and ductile metal. It is the 3rd most abundant element after oxygen and silicon that can be found in the crust of the Earth. The chief ore of aluminium is bauxite. Here is quite an amazing figure: 75% of all aluminium ever produced is currently still in productive use. Why? Because we recycle it. Brazil, for example, recycles 98% of its aluminium can production and Japan 83%. When recycled, 95% less energy is needed in comparison with the extraction from bauxite. Recycling rates in Europe vary from 30% to 80%, so the average figure is about 50%.

The European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) uses the terminology “the smart packaging choice” in their communication to the trade. So why do I, as a marketing and packaging communicator, like this material? And the answer is: aluminium has a very clear ‘language’ because the consumers trust the protection quality of a foil. Glass and stainless steel give, of course, also confidence, but plastic and cardbord much less. If stainless steel is considered a bit old fashioned (we have less and less tins today), aluminium is seen as a modern material.

When choosing a new pack for a product, it is important to know what the material ‘expresses’. We communicate with shapes and graphic design, texts or pictures, but prior to these decisions, we have to choose the adequate material. Take for instance your medical pills, a product you must trust. It is obviously aluminium that will give you that feeling.

I had the pleasure to participate in the graphic design of the first Nespresso capsules. What a success story! Not only because it is obviously a good product – here again we have aluminium which gives it an airtight protection, not to forget an attractive look!

As aluminium is a ductile material, we see today specific shapes such as the Heineken ‘barrels’, but above all the bottle which is in alumunium. The two Coca-Cola illustrations show what can be done today to make a pack unique!

The thin aluminium foil or the foil based laminate has the great advantage that it accentuates the shape of the product in question. The fantastic success of Lindt’s bears or rabbits are convincing examples of how the aluminium material not only reflects the light in the supermarket, but also accentuates certain irregularities in the chocolate which give a more lively appearance of the animals.

The most remarkable example of how to render a pack unique is the latest Coca-Cola metalised film label that becomes a Christmas decoration when pulled from the bottle. Congratulations Coca-Cola – real creativity!

With these examples, I hope to have convinced the reader why aluminium and especially the foil,  have a great future.

LW/January 2016

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