Tinplate packaging

Food cans and the lids of glass screw-cap containers are made of tinplate. This material can be completely recycled, a measure that over half of the energy used in its production. Recycling is mainly financed by a prepaid disposal fee.

Tinplate is steel with a thin coating of tin for rust protection. A layer of white enamel is added to some food cans produced from this materials to protect the contents. Crown caps for bottles and the lids of glass screw-cap containers are also usually made of tinplate. Around 12,000 tonnes of tinplate are collected separately each year. This corresponds to 1.5 kg per capita per year.

Ecological assessment

The separate collection and recycling of clean tinplate and other steel plate packaging makes ecological sense as it reduces the consumption of the natural resources iron and tin. The production of packaging from recycling material reduces energy consumption by over 60 % as compared with new production and the air pollution generated by 30 %.

Separate collection

All types of tinplate and steel plate waste can be collected in the same containers as waste aluminium. This simplifies the handling and transport of the waste. Scrap dealers separate the metals using magnetic separators.

The cans must be cleaned before disposal to prevent odour emissions at collection points. The website of the recycling associations provides a map indicating the location of the collection points.


Numerous processing centres distributed throughout Switzerland separate the collected material and shred it. The steel plate fraction is sent to a domestic de-tinning works or a steel works abroad that can process the metal directly. The purpose of the de-tinning is to recover tin and attain greater scrap value from the pure metal. Following melting down, the recycled food cans are used to make needles and car parts, for example.


Ferro Recycling organises the financing of food can collection and recycling based on a voluntary sectoral solution. It levies a prepaid disposal fee on canning factories and importers which is included in the price of canned goods. Ferro Recycling uses the proceeds of the fee to pay collectors, e.g. communes, processing centres and private individuals, and for public relations work.

Further information

Last modification 05.07.2019

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