Consumers to demand drink cans should be ethically sourced, ex-minister says

Companies that rely on aluminium for drinks cans should start expecting consumers to demand the metal is ethically sourced, energy experts predict.

Lord Barker, chairman of aluminium producer EN+ Group also suggested this could lead to a surge in new jobs and as the industry looks to onshore production with plants powered by renewable electricity.

“As the energy transition rolls forward, the demand for low carbon materials and particularly aluminium will soar,” Barker said.

“Roll forward 10 years, I can see the heavy industry coming home after four decades of decline in UK manufacturing, as manufacturers strive to decarbonise and move their operations to jurisdictions where there is a plentiful supply of affordable, renewable electricity.

“This has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs here in the UK by the end of the decade and beyond.

“This would be a very welcome, yet unexpected industrial dividend from the UK’s world leadership in developing and pioneering offshore wind.”

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The news comes as a recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Carbon Trust found 67 per cent of consumers were in favour of carbon labelling for products.

Two-thirds of consumers in all countries surveyed said they are more likely to think positively about a brand that could demonstrate it had lowered the carbon footprint of its products.

At the time of the release, Carbon Trust managing director Hugh Jones said: “The sustained and high levels of consumer support for carbon labelling suggests that passing this information on to increasingly well-informed and climate-conscious consumers can also enhance a company’s reputation and market share.”

The vast majority of aluminium is produced in China, where nearly all production plants run on burning coal.

However, with global warming and environmental concerns becoming one of the key issues for younger generations, it is thought they could start shunning companies that continue to use materials from coal-fired sources.

The aluminium industry currently accounts for two per cent of global CO2 emissions – the same as that of the entire country of Germany.

Barker pointed out that there are a number of low carbon aluminium producers in Europe and Russia, where electricity is derived from hydropower and new technology is being developed.

This includes using “inert anode” tech, which experts say reduces carbon emissions by 85 per cent compared to traditional methods.

The former minister for energy and climate change under David Cameron’s government added that some companies are addressing how they produce aluminium, including drinks and deodorant cans maker, Ball Corporation, which recently signed a deal with EN+ to make low-carbon aluminium.

with PA Wires

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