Rexam has announced plans to convert its beverage can plant in Berlin to aluminium. The consumer packaging company made the announcement at the Drinktec trade fair in Munich yesterday (13 September).

The switch from steel to aluminium is in direct response to Germany's planned introduction of a nationwide return system for one-way containers in May next year, the company said.

Tomas Sjölin, sector director for Rexam's European and Asian can-making operations, the aluminium can has the potential to become the primary deposit pack on the German market. "We believe that the German market will respond positively to the switch to aluminium," Sjölin said. "The economics of the pack within the deposit system are unparalleled. As well as generating a high scrap value, aluminium cans provide lower handling costs throughout the supply chain and are the most efficient to store and return due to the way they can be compacted. Add to this their excellent recycling properties and strong consumer appeal, and a can come-back next year is inevitable."

The conversion of the Berlin plant will start in January 2006 and will be completed by the end of the second quarter. Following the conversion, production at the plant will increase from 2 to 3 lines creating an estimated 40 new jobs. The approximate cost of the project will be €24m.