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Material Issue

Posted: November 7, 2006, from the November 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The popularity of recycling has increased as energy prices continue to soar. Anomatic, Inc. uses recycled aluminous alloy to create cosmetic packaging, following the trend for high-recycled, 90% post-consumer recycled content materials. By using aluminum alloys that have already been extracted and refined, manufacturers can see a 95% reduction in electrical energy costs. “Primary aluminum extraction plants are traditionally located where there is cheap electrical energy,” explained Mark Ormiston, director of research and development, Anomatic, Inc.

Aluminum alloys exhibit strong resistance to corrosion because of an oxide skin that forms due to reactions with the atmosphere. This corrosive skin protects aluminum from most chemicals, weathering conditions and even many acids. Anomatic utilizes “green finish” anodizing, which contributes to the metallic finish and helps the dye to tie to the aluminum without using heavy metals.

Aluminum is a very versatile metal. It can be extruded into a variety of shapes, turned, milled and bored in the machining process. For most applications, aluminum needs no protective coating, but it often is anodized to improve color and strength.

Working with aluminum manufacturers, Anomatic formulated a standard alloy with a high-recycled content for Estée Lauder’s Origins line. The alloy is deep-drawn to form metal pieces, with anodizing forming a thin oxide coating to improve performance and infuse dyes.
“Anodizing doesn’t have heavy metals or organic solvents utilized in the process, so it’s a really good fit to make a statement in environmental improvements,” said Ormiston. Various efforts to produce materials utilizing recycled content—whether paper, plastic or metal—are big initiatives because of increased awareness of the cause and effect within the environment, according to Ormiston.

Not only is recycling aluminum alloy sound environmentally, it also contributes cost savings for the manufacturer. Newer alloy requires more energy to produce, but refined recycled alloy takes less energy because additional processing is not required. However, recycled content does require technical planning to achieve the best outcome.