Moves to reduce plastic packaging to protect the environment are starting to increase demand for aluminium packaging, the European head of Novelis [NVLX.UL], the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminium products, said.

Aluminium demand will also be underpinned by a trend towards more electrically powered cars, Novelis senior vice president and Europe president Emilio Braghi told Reuters in an interview for LME Week, an event for the global metal industry.

“Consumers want more sustainable beverage packaging options, which is having a direct and positive impact on aluminium demand as aluminium cans provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles,” Braghi said.

“Some of the world’s biggest beverage brands have recently announced they will address the plastic waste challenge by introducing new aluminium packaging for water.”

The aluminium industry is working to convince food and other packagers that the metal provides an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, he said.

“A beverage can that is recycled today can be back on store shelves in just 60 days,” he said. “Cans made from recycled aluminium save 95% of the energy required to make a new can and aluminium can be recycled infinitively without losing quality.

“This makes it a valuable resource instead of using packaging materials that end up in the oceans.”

The most important driver of the growing demand for flat-rolled products (FRP) continues to be the transport industry, and particularly the automotive sector, Braghi said. “The number of electric vehicles is expected to increase significantly and the demand for aluminium is expected to multiply tenfold by 2030 compared to 2017,” he said.

“With the new generation vehicles, the functional requirements for car body construction will change … Examples for new applications are battery cases or high-voltage components, the integration of electric motors, a modified weight distribution or safety concepts.”

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