ITRI conference reviews tinplate innovations

ITRI’s 11th International Tinplate conference held in London last week showcased the latest innovations in tinplate production and use, demonstrating the unique ability of tinplate to adapt to fast changing and demanding market drivers.

Around 130 delegates attended from 27 countries, including representatives from most major tinplate companies and key supply chain players were in attendance 5-6 November.

Industry leaders Apeal and Mpma showed the position of tinplate packaging in its ability to match recently announced circular economy goals as a ‘permanent’ material that is recycled indefinitely in steel plants to make new products. Tinplate recycling rates are already the highest of any packaging material, but the industry has set itself even greater targets of 80% recycling and zero landfill by 2020. Leading can maker Crown showed that tinplate packaging is also well positioned to tackle the shocking problem of food waste, – in Europe alone, the food wasted could feed 200 million people.

Jeremy Pearce, head of technology at ITRI, says, “Once again this milestone event has clearly highlighted tinplate packaging as best suited to meet new sustainability goals of the future circular economy, including reducing food waste, with production technologies also adapting well to be cleaner and more resource efficient. This conference helps fulfil a key objective for ITRI, representing the tin industry, to bring tin using industries together, accelerating and highlighting innovations that will further strengthen competitive position.”

On production technologies, Japanese and South Korean companies Nsengi and Dongbu detailed optimisation of new high efficiency tinplating lines using inert anodes with tin granules instead of tin anodes. Leading electrolyte suppliers Dow Chemicals and Quaker discussed the growth of new cleaner MSA systems replacing PSA technology. Twenty-five of 148 lines globally had converted by 2016, representing 30% of global tinplate production and this trend is expected to continue.

European producers Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp Rasselstein announced results of its collaboration project TCCT, to produce a new REACH-compliant tin-free steel (TFS) product, made with iridium-coated inert electrodes from Magneto, which also presented. TFS is used in around one-third of steel packaging. REACH-compliant tinplate developments were also outlined by ITRI.

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