The year ended with total production of aluminium foil products up 2.1% at 818,400t compared to 2011 levels of 801,600t and deliveries in the fourth quarter were 5% up compared with Q4 2011.
Manfred Mertens, EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group chairman, said: “Requests for short term deliveries continue to affect production planning and European aluminium foil manufacturers must continue to be flexible and react to market changes quickly.”
The industry association, which counts Amcor, AMPAC Flexibles, Novelis and Wipak among its members, said it had a cautious but optimistic outlook for 2013.
It said the moderate increase in demand and deliveries from European manufacturers, seen during the first three quarters of 2012, was maintained in Q4.
Mertens added: “Last year’s recovery is encouraging, but the outlook remains cautious into 2013 so we cannot predict the situation going forward with any certainty. Growth in export sales is expected to continue, but European markets remain volatile.”
Thinner gauges used for flexible packaging and household foil continued to lead the way with an increase of 3% compared with the previous year. The increase in Q4 compared with same period in 2011 was even 8%.
Deliveries of thicker gauges used for semi-rigid containers and technical applications continued to decline, falling by 4% in the last twelve months, although the rate of decline was only 1% in the fourth quarter.
Deliveries outside the EAFA region were up 10%, confirming that emerging markets continue to outperform their European counterparts, although the fourth quarter exports outside the region were only up by 5%.
Mertens said the association continued demonstrating aluminium foil’s role for a more resource efficient society.
“This is also a leading theme from the EU Commission but we believe the concept is the right answer to global challenges like increasing urbanisation while aiming for a more sustainable production and consumption.”
Closure recycling rate
Meanwhile, the average recycling rate for aluminium closures is 40% across Europe, according to EAFA.
It said depending on the collection and sorting infrastructure in place recycling rates for closures can range from more than 80% in Germany to about 40-50% in the UK and Italy.
Countries with relatively small market shares might already recycle 20-30% of all aluminium closures.
Aluminium closures collected together with the mixed packaging fraction are separated with eddy-current systems and similar systems are used to separate closures when it comes to glass.