Australian canmaker tests polymer-coated steel

Amcor, the largest supplier of beverage and aerosol cans in Australia, has begun tests of a new polymer-coated tin-free steel for beverage cans, says Walter Gross, a spokesman for Amcor Australasia, Camberwell, Victoria.

The material, Protact from Corus Packaging Plus (IJmuiden, the Netherlands) comprises a triple layer of polymer extruded onto each side of the steel.

Currently, all beverage cans in Australia are made of aluminum. Amcor will be installing what it calls a miniline to produce beverage cans from the new material at its Canning Vale plant in Western Australia. "The coated steel shows strong potential to be cost competitive with aluminum," Gross says. "Indeed, we believe it offers additional opportunities with value-added developments for the beverage sector."

Trials are being conducted to test the new material on existing Draw Wall Iron (DWI) can technology. Later, the trials will be used to prove the commercial viability of the technology, market acceptability and new product uses.

"We see the environmental credentials of the Protact Polymer Coated Steel can as one of the exciting benefits," Gross tells Packaging World. Extrusion-coated metals can significantly reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing by eliminating the use of solvents. Precoating eliminates the need for internal coatings, associated ovens and washing chemicals.

The material is already being used in Europe for aerosol and seafood cans. Amcor has used Corus' film-coated Ferrolite steel for several years in the manufacture of a retortable, peelable membrane end for food applications.

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