thyssenkrupp unveils future vision at fifth Future Symposium

Over 300 participants from 31 countries attended the fifth Future Symposium organised by German tinplate manufacturer, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. Held under the theme “The Magic of Doing it,” the symposium featured both internal and external speakers discussing the future of packaging steel. The event highlighted innovative solutions the company is developing to address current and future challenges in the packaging industry. 

“With increasingly climate-friendly production, a strong focus on the circular economy, and a high emphasis on occupational health and safety, we ensure that both nature and people benefit from our products,” said Dr Peter Kirchesch, sustainability manager at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. “By developing and implementing technological innovations, we continually enhance our ecological, social, and economic performance, creating value for both us and our customers.” 

Dr Carmen Ostwald, head of business development for bluemint Steel at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, took the stage to demonstrate the company’s significant progress in its green transformation toward climate-neutral steel. The steel manufacturer aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by nearly one-third by 2030, with the goal of producing climate-neutral steel by 2045. “This is also crucial for our customers,” Dr Ostwald explained. “From 2034 on, steel manufacturers will be responsible for 100% of their CO2 emission costs within the EU emissions trading system. However, there is no reason to be pessimistic. We are already offering our CO2-reduced bluemint Steel as a pathway to an emission-free future.” 

During engaging discussions with Rasselstein experts, industry peers, and exhibitors, attendees of the Future Symposium explored additional measures to reduce CO2 emissions at the Andernach plant. One notable innovation is the iReku from Kueppers Solutions, the first 3D-printed burner with optimised heat recovery. This device can save around 3,000 tons of CO2 annually in tinplate production. The energy-efficient recuperators used in the annealing plants at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein help reduce natural gas consumption by about 10%. 

The tinplate manufacturer is also focusing on reducing Scope 1 emissions by substituting natural gas in the production process. “We are actively working to avoid emissions at the plant, effectively tackling them in the final stages,” said Dr Burkhard Kaup from the transformation team at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. “With our new panel coating line, we can save around 1,100 tons of CO2 per year. Additionally, by transporting hot strip coils from thyssenkrupp Steel to our Andernach plant using locomotives that run on electricity and biodiesel, we can avoid a further 2,000 tons of CO2 annually.” 

Dr Kaup added: “Our long-term goal is to entirely eliminate Scope 1 emissions. As a first step, we are actively researching alternatives to natural gas. For instance, Rasselstein is an industrial partner in two projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, exploring the use of hydrogen as a fuel gas.” 

One key takeaway from the Future Symposium is the urgent need for proactive measures against climate change, leveraging the solutions already available in the market. “The Magic of Doing it” aptly captured the event’s theme, emphasising the importance of immediate action for anyone looking to contribute to the sustainable transformation of the packaging industry. This call to action was reinforced by various external speakers who shared their success stories. Ernesto García-Balibrea, managing director of Bemasa Caps, discussed the seamless integration of bluemint Steel in the screw caps for jam manufacturer, Hero. Benny Walkenbach, head of sales at Westerwald Brauerei, showcased its new 5-litre party kegs made from CO2-reduced tinplate. Additionally, Martti Lemendik, CEO of Metaprint, highlighted the benefits of switching to bluemint Steel for aerosol can manufacturers. 

Also at the Future Symposium, Dr Linda Kerkhoff, development engineer for materials, applications and technology at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, emphasised the importance of analysing environmental data related to products and companies. “Collecting and continuously monitoring environmental data is crucial for achieving sustainability goals, identifying potential CO2 savings, and developing sustainable packaging solutions,” she said. The foundation of this approach is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a systematic analysis of a product’s environmental impact, including CO2 emissions, throughout its entire life cycle. By employing LCA, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein ensures transparency about its environmental data, provides reliable and certified values, and aids its customers in analysing their processes and products for sustainability. 

Frank Elberskirch, head of technical customer service North America, and Dr Manuel Köhl, head of materials, applications and technology at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, provided a clear example of CO2 savings in action. They demonstrated how optimised packaging steels can significantly reduce CO2 emissions. By using rasselstein D&I Solid, the thickness of a two-piece food can is reduced by 7%, resulting in a material saving of 5 grams. This reduction translates to a decrease of 12.25 grams of CO2 per can. Elberskirch illustrated this saving further: “If you convert these saved grams of carbon dioxide into litres, the use of rasselstein D&I Solid can save 6.2 litres of CO2 for each can, enough to fill more than two balloons.” 

Occupational health and safety are top priorities at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. The tinplate manufacturer continually invests in optimizing its materials and production processes. “Progress is in our company’s DNA. We don’t want to stand still; we want to actively move the industry forward through innovation,” emphasised Dr Heiner Schäfgen, head of technical sustomer service at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. A comparison with the fourth Future Symposium highlights this commitment: In 2019, the focus was on transitioning to alternative, chromium(VI)-free products. By 2024, just five years later, CFPA is included in the European standard and is an integral part of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein’s product portfolio. Consequently, the Andernach- based company is currently expanding its range of chromium-free passivated tinplate, with plans to produce passivated packaging steel exclusively with CFPA by the end of 2027. 

Attendees of the Future Symposium witnessed another significant investment at the Andernach site firsthand. With the completion of coating line 13 (VA 13), the company is advancing its focus on sustainability, process efficiency, quality, and competitiveness. The new coating line is the world’s first facility dedicated solely to the production of ECCS-RC. VA 13 produces special chrome-plated packaging steel using the innovative Trivalent Chromium Coating Technology (TCCT). “The VA 13 is absolutely cutting-edge technology. We have gradually increased production in recent months,” said Thomas Denkel, vice president of sales, Europe, at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein. 

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