“The can has risen to iconic status”

Dear friends and colleagues,

As 2020 draws to an end and many of us look forward to family gatherings and time of relaxation away from the pressures of work, we’re faced with a different reality. With much of the world facing strict controls until the much-lauded vaccines, which have not only been rolled out, but have been proven to work, not least withstanding finding a way to reach out to our poorer neighboring countries with diverse and densely populated cities.

2020 is somewhat memorable because the first two digits match the second two digits. This happens only once in a century – being alive in 2020 is special because that is the only year you are likely to live through wherein the first two digits will match the second two digits.

If we were to believe Nostradamus, as well as the many varied soothsayers, this would indeed be a tumultuous year that would also bring about new beginnings, new perceptions and cleanse the world. This has indeed been the case as we look behind us and plan for the journey ahead of us in the year to come.

In Chinese culture this is the year of the Rat; rats are considered to be quick-thinking, optimistic and adaptable, giving them the edge in 2020’s rat race. Those parts of our industry that were quick thinking and adaptable have shown themselves to have benefited most from the events as they unfolded.

The covid-19 pandemic has had negatives and positives both personally and for our industry. Our industry has exploded with capacity far below demand bringing with it the need for expansion across the world. We see a fervor of building and employment not seen since the Asia Pacific rise of the Tiger Nations and the opening of the Chinese Economy in the early late 80s and early 90s. The end of the last decade saw a focus on our planet and thus the heightened perception that not all technology has moved in the right direction since the moon landing.

An anniversary to be proud of

Plastics in the shape of everything from glitter makeup through cigarette butts, single-use plastic bag and of course PET containers were hailed by young and old wisdoms alike, as poisoning our planet and destroying our treasured marine ecosystems and ultimately food chain. It’s fitting that in the year where we celebrate the 85th anniversary of the beer can, that the can is recognised for its flexibility and ultimate recyclable benefits. We must continue to remind the world of this and not become complacent as the industry grapples with Covid-growth.

The first quarter of 2020 was positive, and we prepared for a modest growth for the year with possible a higher-than-normal trajectory due to this effect brought by what we coined as the PET Tsunami. In the second quarter of 2020, the world turned into a Hollywood disaster movie but, unlike the cinema, there was no quick fix, there was no hero scientist who would save the world.

Covid-19 was the beginning of sickness, death and isolation never seen since the Spanish Flu, while the dreaded Ebola once hailed in the very movies we think of as successfully locked down and dealt with in Africa a pathogen more akin to the flu, levelled the global playing field and brought many countries and industries to their knees.

Growing from strength to strength

The can making industry through the year has grown from strength to strength as fear emptied the shelves of everything storable, as pubs and restaurants closed and stress-increased drinking moved from external traditional entertainment locations to home, where we reinvented our cooking skills and love for family and friends.

This reinvention of our culture will have lasting impact and will see that mindset of ‘never again’ being adapted to not see the huge financial losses we observed as we watched kegs and containers being flushed to waste. The can has risen to iconic status due to its ability to be stored easily, long shelf life and ultimate recyclability.

Giving thanks

We need to take time to thank all of the health front line workers who looked after our loved ones and became the new superheroes of the decade dwarfing those depicted by Marvel and DC. It’s also important to remember our own heroes, while many of us complained about ‘zoom-barresment’ and the headaches from long hours on in global ‘zoom-topia’ meetings, thousands of our colleagues were still working long shifts tirelessly toiling to keep our industry ahead of the curve, while putting themselves in front of the Covid-Truck relentlessly bearing down on us.

Sadly, we have lost some colleagues and friends and offer our deepest thanks and condolences to them, and more importantly their loved ones left behind never to forget the start of this decade.

Looking ahead

As we look forward with positive thoughts and an industry that is thriving, we have a plethora of vaccines being rolled out. The scientific heroes of the day have finally brought us salvation we hope – life is very different and more real than the silver screen.

As we look forward to the year of the Ox, in Chinese culture the strong sign hails a positive and productive year where the hard work is rewarded. The Ox has paid its dues and is ready to enjoy the hard-won results.

In the Agrarian societies of the world, Oxen are used as capable farming tools which attach to the symbol of diligence, persistence and honesty.

Finally, if we look at the aforementioned Nostradamus, the text as always is cryptic and somewhat poetic but can clearly be seen as the 20’s being a new beginning, new ideals, and new ways of doing what we do.

In my early days as a tooling specialist, I remember the words that made me cringe from the lips of well healed machine operators “this the way we have done this for 30 years young ‘un”. Like these leathered souls, we need to learn from 2020 and ask ourselves if this is sufficient reason to continue doing it the same way?

Shu and Angela An, Richard Moore, together with all the Management and Staff of the SLAC Group wish you all Happy Holidays.

I finish with our new parting mantra ‘Stay Safe’.

Kind regards

Chris McKenzie Chief Operating Officer, International, Chief Marketing Officer, SLAC International

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