A history of aluminium cans

Aluminium’s been used since the beginning of the 19th century, but it’s come a long way since then...

Raw materials

  • Aluminium comes from an ore called bauxite, taking its name from the town in Southern France where it was first mined commercially – Les Baux.
  • Although it's an element, aluminium never occurs in its metallic form in nature. It is found in compound form in rocks and soil.
  • The world’s leading producing areas of bauxite are South and Central America, Africa and Australia.

Key dates

1808

Aluminium was discovered by Sir Humphry Davy, the man who invented the miner’s safety lamp as well as discovering loads of other elements.

1856

A method for producing aluminium products commercially was developed, and the cost of producing aluminium was so high that it was considered precious, like gold and silver! It was so expensive that Napoleon had a ceremonial dinner service made from aluminium!

1958

The first aluminium drinks can was made by the Adolph Coors Company.

1961

The easy-open end (or ring pull) was introduced.

1989

The stay-on tab was launched.

1990

Europe’s first dedicated aluminium can recycling plant opened in Warrington, Cheshire, able to recycle 8 billion cans a year!