The truth about foil packaging’s sustainability

People around the planet now believe we should prioritise the environment over economic growth. This is a concern that is seeping into buying habits. Many now say that environmental worries influence their purchasing choices. Consumer pressure for greener items and services is moving up through supply chains as well. Retailers are competing to source those sustainable solutions their customers want, including recyclable foils.

The way we package our products and what we do with the packaging is at the centre of the sustainability debate. This is amid images of swirling soups of plastic waste and overflowing landfills.

Some of you may be asking how aluminium foil packaging stands up. Others will be wondering what the industry can do to make certain that it is part of the solution, not a contributor. We’re going to talk about it in more detail here.

Endless recyclability

Recyclable foilsAluminium foil’s primary sustainability strength is its unending recyclability. This is one of the few packaging materials that doesn’t experience degradation via the recycling loop. So, in theory, it is possible to use and recycle it an infinite number of times. It is estimated that around 75% of all the aluminium ever made still has use in one form or another somewhere.

Another advantage is recycling the foil to make new items takes around 95% less energy. This is if you compare to producing brand new material. Thus, you are able to divide the environmental footprint of manufacturing it by the amount of times you recycle it more or less. If you’d like to use recyclable foils, give us a call.

In this manner, foil packaging can work as a practical example of the circular economy. Think about someone who recycles the material. They may collect it and then feed it into a baler. Next, the bales get shipped back to their suppliers and recycled into new reels for the company. With a process like this, there is little in terms of foil waste.

In recent years, household recycling rates have gone up steadily across Europe. Within the UK, we recycle almost two thirds of our packaging. Aluminium foil is one of the most recyclable materials all over the continent. Domestic collection services typically have no issue taking it from our doorsteps.

Public awareness continues to be a crucial challenge for the industry though. Lots of consumers aren’t aware that they can recycle their foil containers. It is possible to do so as easily as recycling glass bottles and cardboard boxes.


Other massive sustainability challenges pop up before recyclable foils even get to a factory. Bauxite ore is aluminium’s raw material. It has historically been mined from areas in the world that are rich in biodiversity. As a result, there is potential for a huge amount of damage. Recycling is much better than mining fresh ore.

Then there is the electrolysis operation. It refines the ore into the metal we are all familiar with. This releases carbon dioxide as a waste product.

With foil mills themselves, the carbon footprint is mainly driven by the local energy system. If the grid that serves the factory is hydro or wind energy-powered, the footprint stays relatively small. In high production areas of places like China though, much of the energy system still uses coal.

Industry responses

The industry is responding to the challenges in several ways. This includes innovating with new, stronger, thinner recyclable foils. Thanks to them, we can make more with less.

The refinery process has also seen changes as well. Inert anodes have been introduced. They eradicate carbon dioxide as a waste product coming from electrolysis.

Furthermore, the industry is supporting government efforts. These push for increasing recycling rates and decarbonising power grids.

Recyclable foils have a huge amount of potential

At Foiling Services, we know the potential that foils have for decorative purposes. At the same time, we know how vital recyclable ones are to the environment. That is why we work closely with our partners to ensure they are available.

So, if you’d like to use them for your next projects, come to us.