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Zerknitterte Alufolie Silber

Holy chocolate! The big aluminum foil misconception

Whether at Easter or at Christmas, hollow chocolate figures should not be missing. Sweet bunnies or bearded chocolate men - the main thing is that they taste good and make the children happy. Ingredients and packaging often take a backseat. This winter, some manufacturers were smarter and produced their popular seasonal products in a vegan version. What has remained is the dazzling robe made of aluminum foil. Holistically sustainable is different...

What does vegan have to do with sustainable?

Let's start with what's going better. We think it's great that there are more and more vegan alternatives. One or the other may wonder what this has to do with sustainability. In our blog article ” Animal protein – 3 reasons why we don’t need it ” we have already dealt with the topic in detail, but again briefly: Animal farming is responsible for about 20% of global greenhouse gases and therefore has even higher emissions responsible than the entire transport sector. On the one hand, the animals emit CO2 when digesting, on the other hand, important resources of land, water and food for animal husbandry are wasted. However, vegan sweets alternatives alone are not the solution. The packaging also needs to be rethought.

But aluminum foil is easy to recycle, isn't it?

Europe ranks second in the world for aluminum consumption. The metal is so popular because it is flexible, very light and heat-resistant. The metal has not only fallen into disrepute because of possible damage to health, environmental pollution is also an issue. Yes, in theory, aluminum is easy to recycle. In practice, however, things are not looking so rosy with aluminum foil. There is more to the environmental friendliness of packaging than its reusability. The entire product life cycle should always be considered, because then you quickly realize that aluminum has a decisive disadvantage: the production is an enormous burden on our environment.

The manufacture of aluminum

In order to obtain aluminium, the ore bauxite is extracted from the ground in opencast mines. It consists of 50-60% aluminum oxide and is heated with caustic soda. Aluminum oxide is released in the process. Mining is currently taking place primarily in Australia, China, Brazil, India and Jamaica. In order to get to the bauxite, primeval forests are cut down in many places. Land conflicts with the local population are also a problem in many of these areas.

When processing bauxite, up to four tons of red mud are produced as a waste product per ton of aluminum. And it's made of toxic chemicals. For example, red mud contains lead and heavy metals and cannot be processed further. So what to do with it? Off to the landfill or simply into the water, which is usually deadly for plants and animals and damages human health. We hardly need to mention at this point that the ecosystems are also being destroyed...

Recyclability must also be considered. Compared to plastic recycling, aluminum recycling can save (a few) CO2 equivalents, but if you look at the primary production of the two materials, there are big differences. While primary aluminum production releases around 13.5 tons of CO2 equivalents per ton, plastic “only” has about 2.4 tons. And since the recycling of aluminum is not yet carried out to a technically high standard in practice, mostly fresh primary aluminum has to be used for new packaging. This makes it clear that simply replacing all plastic packaging with aluminum solutions is definitely not the most sustainable solution.

Aluminum coffee capsules

Aluminum recycling is particularly difficult for food packaging

In order to properly recycle aluminum, it also has to end up in the right collection point: in the yellow bag or bin. The popular metal is not only used in the transport industry, in the construction sector and mechanical engineering, but also as a packaging component for our food.

However, since it cannot be efficiently separated from the other materials, the packaging is usually incinerated and the aluminum is therefore not recycled. If the aluminum does make it to recycling, there is another problem: the quality suffers. That's because there are around 450 different types of aluminum, all of which should be recycled separately if possible. Since such sorting has not yet been implemented, the quality suffers and the reuse of the once valuable resource is only possible in limited areas. A closed circuit looks different.

We celebrate vegan Christmas without aluminum foil waste

We remain true to our values ​​even at Christmas. Like all our products, Snowy and our limited nucao winter variety Winter Spice are vegan, organic and plastic-free. For example, our cute penguin is at home in a box, our nucao chocolate bars are wrapped in packaging made of 90% cellulose from FSC and PEFC-certified forestry (💡you can find out more about our packaging film in our blog ). Why this is the more sustainable solution becomes clear when you look at the carbon footprint. At 326 kg per tonne, cardboard has comparatively low CO2 equivalents within the value chain. This makes it the packaging material with the lowest environmental impact and our packaging of choice. The recycling rate is also significantly higher than that of aluminium. For paper and cardboard in Germany it is over 80%, and the trend is upwards.

Snowy question gifts need sugar and aluminum foil

Chocolate without foil

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