Two significant events in the canmaking world happened at the turn of the year: the start up of Tata Steel’s film-laminating line for packaging steels, and the decision by a leading Chinese canmaker that it would be setting up a beverage can plant in Europe.

Tata’s investment in The Netherlands offers canmakers supplying the food industry the opportunity to offer metal packaging with a lower environmental impact, because the polyester-coated cans don’t need the application of liquid coatings with their associated curing systems. And they easily get round issues relating to BPA.

This development is long overdue, because there’s been only limited capacity with demand coming from the aerosol can and seafood industries in Europe and North America.

But most growth in the use of film- laminated canstock has not been in Europe but in China, where for the past five years or so canmakers have been establishing new plants for supplying customers with general-line cans using laminated film that is pre-printed without the need for conventional lithography.

More recently a canmaking operation using this technology has been set up in Europe, in Poland, following similar investments in Indonesia and South Africa.

And as a recent visit by The Canmaker to China revealed, capacity in film-laminated steels could reach three million tonnes in the next three years, with canstock manufacturer Comat at the helm, as the news item in this issue highlights.

Another significant move is that a Chinese canmaker is planning to build a beverage can plant in Europe. CPMC Investment will be the country’s first to make the move, with experience in supplying a strong customer base both domestically and abroad. The plant, to be built in Belgium, could be the first of many more.

Find out more at Cannex in Denver, USA, from 1-3 May, the first preview for which will be in March’s issue. Be there.

John Nutting