Reduce aluminium use by making aerosols smaller? Yes we can!

Cutting aluminium use by decreasing the size of aerosol cans is a good way to reduce packaging – but the cans must still be recycled in order to ensure maximum sustainability.

Deodorants are widely used and come in different forms, but the most popular way to dispense a fresh fragrance is to use an aerosol spray. Aerosols account for approximately 80% of deodorant sales, and with 19 million aerosol deodorants being sold every year in the UK to women alone, a large amount of metal and propellant is being used.

Unilever, a major manufacturer of consumer goods including many deodorants, has just made a big change to its women’s deodorant aerosol ranges – its first since the 1960s – by reducing the can size by half. The cans are now 75ml, with 28% less packaging (most of it aluminium – 25% less metal is now used), but the same amount of product is dispensed.

This radical step will mean a decrease in Unilever’s aluminium use by 24 tonnes per year, and the fact that 50% more cans can be loaded into pallets for distribution (with fewer lorries being needed) will yield a massive carbon saving of 283 tonnes per year. This is good news for the company, whose sustainability plans include halving waste from product disposal, and halving greenhouse gases, by 2020. The new cans – described as an “innovation” by Amanda Sourry, Chair of Unilever UK and Ireland – have been praised by WRAP, whose Director of Design and Waste Prevention, Richard Swannell, “applauds Unilever’s leadership role in evolving the format” of aerosol cans.

Unilever’s move to reduce its packaging is also welcomed by Recycling Lives. Clearly, cutting the amount of aluminium used by a quarter represents a significant saving, and the fact that this can be done without affecting the customer’s value for money is worthy of praise. Sustainability and customer care are hallmarks of Recycling Lives’ approach, which is characterised by a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. The innovation shown in designing and manufacturing these new cans is also very much in line with the Recycling Lives way – it is a social business committed to finding innovative solutions to waste management problems.

Of course, no matter how much of a reduction Unilever has made in its aluminium use, aerosol cans still need disposing of responsibly; only by ensuring that waste is recycled can there be a real benefit to the environment. Recycling Lives provides its clients with a range of recycling solutions, including processing aluminium and many other metals. We ensure that the metals are diverted from landfill – and in carrying out our work, we provide employment opportunities for homeless individuals and people at risk of homelessness, who are undergoing the holistic support programme provided by Recycling Lives’ social welfare charity.