The rise of aerosols

Dr John Morris, CEO of the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA), looks at the trends driving aerosol production across Europe

European aerosol production figures are looking strong – and nowhere is stronger than the UK.
BAMA reported earlier this year that the previous year (2011) had seen an upturn in filling figures for aerosol of over nine per cent – a staggering achievement when reviewed against the general economic picture which has seen a 10 per cent decline in manufacturing over the five years between 2006 and 2011.
European aerosol filling figures stood at 5,535 million units in 2011 compared with 4,676 million units a decade ago.
Since 1995, production has increased by just under two billion units in nearly 20 years – an average of just under 100m aerosols per year over this period reaching the highest it has been.
In 2011 the UK’s production stood at just over a quarter (25.2 per cent) of the total, followed closely by Germany at 24.5 per cent  – both more than double the nearest rivals, France (10.3 per cent), Italy (10 per cent) and the Netherlands (7.2 per cent). These five countries alone account for around 80 per cent of total European production.
Of the remaining 20 per cent, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey all saw significant increases with, unsurprisingly, Greece falling very short of its previous record, with a 28 per cent decrease year on year.

Steel vs aluminium
In a year when the innovation category of the BAMA Awards 2012, whose results were announced at the BAMA Forum last month, was won by a plastic aerosol format, it is interesting to note the trends in materials being employed for aerosol casings. The winner of this category was the Colep plastic aerosol in conjunction with Britvic, for the innovation shown in the design of the Tango aerosol drinks.
There has been a notable rise in glass and plastic aerosols over the last five years and whilst these formats remain relatively small in number, it does show that the drive is there. The other noteworthy trend is loss of market share for steel at the expense of aluminium which, during the past five years, has undergone a 400 million unit growth in can usage, accounting for a 7.5 per cent point gain in market share.  This is a swing of over 800 million cans towards aluminium compared with 2006 and we have seen two major European steel can makers retrench over the last few months.
In 2006 in the UK it was the reverse for steel and aluminium in terms of market share, with 46 per cent of aerosols being aluminium and 53 per cent made of steel. However this trend of a reasonably even divide between the two main materials is not common across Europe. In Italy, aluminium accounts for only around a third of production with steel continuing to take the main share whilst in neighbouring France, the reverse is true with around three quarters of cans being aluminium.
As to the product sectors that are most popular in aerosol format, in the UK it is personal care that dominates with a 72 per cent share of the total outputs; household accounts for 23 per cent; with the remaining five per cent being a mix of product groups. In the UK, the household sector – whilst relatively small – has made very significant gains, primarily due to business migrating back to the UK, but although a small sector, it has helped to offset the small downward change in personal care. About one in 10 cans filled for market – and approximately one in five cans filled for the personal care sector – are filled in the UK.
Setting all of this in the context of world figures, the US continues to struggle behind Europe. Since 2006, world aerosol production has increased by 13 per cent, with the UK running slightly behind this but with the US at three per cent. By contrast, Argentina, Brazil and China saw production figures at 39, 135 and 49 per cent respectively. Notable by its absence is Japan which has remained static over the last five years.
As regards productions of aerosols per head of population the UK is nearly – but not quite – at the top of the  table with 22.3 cans produced per head of population, just beaten for top place by Argentina which produces 22.7 cans per head.

UK focus
It is however not all a story of quantity over quality. In the UK, we are proud not just of our buoyant production figures but of the innovation, social responsibility and environmental contributions of our members, too. The achievements across these three areas were brought into sharp focus by this year’s BAMA Awards. These accolades recognise the best of the best and entries from many BAMA members gave the judges plenty of choice.
The BAMA Awards aim to highlight and recognise the continuous improvement, innovation and economic viability within the UK aerosol industry. It never ceases to inspire me to see just how innovative our industry is and how the sector continues to strive for excellence, demonstrating the immense strengths and value the UK aerosol industry brings to the global aerosol market.
Nine entries were shortlisted and were judged in the following categories, focusing on the three pillars of sustainability: Economic Sustainability, Environmental Benefits and Social Responsibility.
The other area of which BAMA is particularly proud this year are our achievements in promoting the sustainability of the category. Our recycling campaign, which for many years has helped encourage more people to recycle and more authorities and others to facilitate and guide people on the potential for recycling empty aerosols, has reached a milestone this year with nearly nine out of 10 local authorities (87 per cent) in the UK now recycling empty aerosols at the kerb-side. Along with our prize sponsor, Epic Media Group, BAMA has again created a forum for public recognition of local authorities via the BAMA Can Do Awards. Next year we have plans to take our sustainability work to a different level by considering how we can encourage those who already recycle aerosols from their homes to recycle even more.

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