Tinplate vs. Plastic Containers: Which is More Environmentally Friendly?

Since there is only one Earth, it is important that companies do their best to produce products that minimize damage to the environment as much as possible. When it comes to determining what type of containers to use for our Rock Doctor products, we strive to create packaging that will do little harm. For this reason, we use tinplate steel containers for our Rock Doctor cleaning products.

Tinplate vs. Plastic Recycling

Recycling is one critical aspect of packaging that manufacturers need to consider. Research shows that consumers are much more likely to recycle steel products than plastic. In fact, consumers recycle nearly 80 percent of steel packaging, while only 30 percent of plastic is recycled.

When it comes to how much recycled material is used to create plastic and steel products, tinplate steel is a better option yet again. Plastic bottles and containers tend to contain only three percent of recycled plastic material. Similar tinplate products tend to contain up to 25 percent recycled steel material. The staggering difference is made even more shocking when you take into account that it takes only 50 percent of the energy to produce tinplate from recycled material that it takes to produce new tinplate products. This means that less energy and less new steel are being used to create tinplate containers.

When using recycled steel, you also dramatically reduce the carbon emissions it would take to produce a new tinplate steel product. In fact, using recycled tinplate steel reduces carbon emissions by as much as nine percent.

Finally, it is important to note that steel can be repeatedly recycled, which isn’t the case with all plastics. Plus, plastic production requires the use of petroleum, which is an extremely limited resource that is also necessary for a variety of other industries.

What Happens When Tinplate and Plastic End Up in the Landfill?

While both tinplate and plastic can be recycled in many circumstances, not every piece of either will end up in recycling facilities where they can be repurposed into other products. This means that landfills will become home to both over time.

Plastic has a notorious reputation for taking a very long time to break down. Research has determined that it can take up to 450 years for a plastic container to break down in a landfill, while tinplate steel tends to break down in around 50 years. While tinplate steel still takes a long time to decompose, it does so much faster than plastic. Plastic also tends to end up in the ocean where it can cause a variety of problems for ocean life. In fact, plastic makes up 80 percent of the waste that ends up in the oceans.

Advantages of Tinplate

Since tinplate can be recycled an infinite number of times, it is a much more environmentally-friendly material than plastic. Due to its recyclability, tinplate reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. In fact, the recyclability of tinplate is only one of the many advantages of the material. For example, using metal materials reduces damage to forests and pollution to the air, water, and land. Additionally, tinplate produces fewer emissions, which decreases climate change.

Using recycled tinplate for packaging reduces energy usage by 60 percent when compared to creating new material. Mining wastes are reduced by up to 97 percent when recycled tinplate is used, as well.  Pollution of the air and water are reduced by 86 and 76 percent, respectively. And finally, water use is reduced by 40 percent.

When it comes to determining the type of packaging that we want to use for Rock Doctor products, we like to consider the potential damage that could be done to the environment. For this reason, Rock Doctor is proud to use tinplate steel canisters for our cleaning products when possible. These steel canisters are 100 percent recyclable, which makes them much more environmentally friendly than competing products that are packaged in plastic bottles.