Crown Holdings Cuts Direct GHGs 8%

by | Jan 23, 2012

Crown Holdings, a leading supplier of cans and other metal packaging products to consumer marketing companies, cuts its direct greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent from 2007 to 2010, according to its first sustainability report.

The $7.9 billion-sales company, which makes food and beverage cans and ends, aerosol cans, metal vacuum closures and caps, and decorative and industrial steel packaging, estimates that indirect emissions were down two percent in that time. Indirect GHG output was up slightly from 2009 to 2010, while the change for direct GHGs was difficult to ascertain from the chart provided in the report. Like many in the report, its data points were not labeled and there were no notches to indicate the placement of numbers on the Y-axis.

Since 2007, Crown decreased propane use by 14 percent, natural gas by eight percent and electricity by two percent, even as unit sales continue to increase each year. From 2009 to 2010, electricity use was up slightly, natural gas use was down slightly and LPG use stayed roughly the same.

Crown’s Wantage, U.K. technology center cut annual electricity use by over 11 percent through educating employees to fully disconnect non-essential equipment that is not used for long periods.

The company also implemented several processes to capture waste heat. At Mansfield, U.K., a new plant design allowed Crown to recover 80 percent of waste heat from compressed air production, and use it for space heating. In Beijing, Crown is recovering hot air from ovens used to cure and dry coatings, reducing gas use for space heating by 75 percent.

And at Hoorn in the Netherlands, an air/water heat exchanger uses exhaust gas from incinerators to boil water, which in turn heats the plant, saving 50,000 cubic meters of gas a year.

Several of Crown’s U.S. plants have invested in variable frequency technology that matches motor speed to system load. Through this technology, its Faribault, Minn., aerosol can facility reduced annual energy use on production lines by about 9 percent.

Crown’s Beijing plant increased its number of pallets per truck by 69 percent through converting trucks with extended load areas. At Perrywood, U.K., improved planning and load optimization allows the plant to ship tinplate sheets and cans simultaneously, reducing truck shipments by 30 percent. And in Mill Park, Ohio, Crown worked with its trailer supplier on a redesign that reduced steel coil shipments by 50 percent.

But the company says the hallmark of its “sustainability story” is the product it makes, since metal cans are 100 percent recyclable and made from abundant elements. Crown notes that the recycling rate for aluminum cans in the U.S. continues to climb, reaching its highest level in a decade in 2010, with 58.1 percent of all cans recycled – though this compares to 64.3 percent in the EU (in 2009).

In 2000 the company introduced its SuperEnd beverage ends, which reduce metal use by 10 percent, and to date it has produced over 300 billion such ends, saving an estimated 73,500 metric tons of aluminum, 1,200 metric tons of coatings, and 600,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Crown says its coating and steel usage decreased by five percent since 2007, while aluminum use increased as a direct result of Crown producing 19 percent more cans. Aluminum and steel consumption both rose from 2009 to 2010, though the company did not offer exact figures.

Crown says a core part of its sustainability program is the recycling of metal, packing and other materials. Metal comprises about 85 percent of Crown’s incoming materials, and the company says it already makes significant effort to recover and recycle nearly all of its metal waste, but is turning its attention to the other 15 percent, including pallets, shrink wrap and cores from metal coils.

In 2010, it recycled over 350,000 tons of metal. Waste recycling bounced up from 385 in 2009 to 390 in 2010 – but what the units for these numbers are, the report doesn’t say.

Since 2007, Crown says its waste-to-landfill levels fell by 15 percent and waste-to-energy levels increased significantly. But waste-to-energy dropped from 2009 to 2010, while landfilling remained largely static.

In Botcherby, U.K., the company’s waste to energy boiler burns wooden pallets, paper and cardboard to provide hot water for washing cans, cutting gas consumption by about 1,000 MWh a year. Crown’s Mexico City plant reduced its hazardous waste inventory by 82 percent through cleaning previously discarded industrial rags.

Crown’s VOC emissions, generated through use of various surface coatings, inks and cleaning solvents, dropped eight percent from 2007 to 2010. The company says it achieved this through using lower-VOC coatings, alternative cleaning materials and improved add-on controls where needed.

Crown replaced many solvent-based materials with water-based options, polymer-coated films and powder-based coatings. All of these substitutions are rigorously tested to ensure that product shelf life, quality and regulatory compliance are strictly maintained, the company says.

In addition, Crown’s Nantes, France facility cut its VOC emissions in half by replacing wide-spray coaters with precision sprays to target cans’ easy-open ends.

VOC emissions were up substantially year-on-year, however, from under 13,000 tons in 2009 to close to 13,500 tons in 2009.

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