Can-Do Attitude: 200th Can-niversary timeline

Oct. 12, 2010
You've come a long way baby! In honor of the can's 200th birthday, we're publishing a list of the can's most notable events in history.

200th Can-niversary timeline

1795 Napoleon Bonaparte offers 12,000 francs for a method of preserving food for his army and navy. 1809 Nicolas Appert, "Father of Canning," receives the 12,000-franc prize from the French government for preserving food by sterilization. 1810 The can is born when Englishman Peter Durand receives a patent from King George III for a tin-plated iron can to be used as a food container. 1818 Peter Durand introduces the tin-plated can in America. 1819  Thomas Kensett and Ezra Daggett of England can oysters, fruits, meats and vegetables in New York City. 1825 Kensett patents the tin-plated can in America. 1849 Henry Evans patents the pendulum press, capable of making a can end in a single operation. Machinery increases individual worker production from five to six cans per hour to 50 or 60 per hour. 1856 Gail Borden is granted a patent on condensed milk. 1875 Arthur A. Libby and William J. Wilson develop the tapered can for corned beef in Chicago. 1877 The simplified side seamer appears and helps continue to make production of cans more efficient. 1880 The first automatic can-making machinery is introduced. 1898 The George W. Cobb Preserving Co. perfects the sanitary can. 1914 Continuous ovens for drying inked tinplate are introduced. 1921 When used in an enamel can lining, zinc oxide and other zinc compounds are found to prevent discoloration.
Steel cans are a great deal
  • Steel food cans are 100% recyclable and contain a minimum of 25 percent recycled content.
  • Steel food cans can be recycled over and over without loss of quality.
  • Americans use 100 million steel cans every day.
  • More than 31,000 community-recycling programs in North America collect steel cans.
  • Approximately 20 billion steel cans were recycled into new products in 2008.
  • Steel food cans are the most recycled food package.
  • More than 600 steel cans are recycled every second in the U.S. 
  • Steel is the most recycled material in the world--including more than 82 million tons in the U.S. alone in 2008. More steel is recycled annually than all other materials, including Aluminium, glass, and paper combined.
  • In 2008, more than 65 percent of steel cans were recycled in North America. 
  • Stack the 20 billion steel cans recycled last year end-to-end, and you'd have a line stretching from here to the moon and back seven times.
  • Recycling one ton of steel cans conserves 2,500 lbs. of iron ore, 1400 lbs. of coal and 120 lbs. of limestone.
  • More than 147 million people have convenient access to curbside recycling of their steel food cans.
  • Recycling steel saves nearly 75 percent of the energy that would be used to create steel from raw materials, enough to power nearly 20 million homes.
  • Every day Americans use enough steel (tin) cans to make a steel pipe running from Los Angeles to New York... and back.
  • The U.S. steel industry has reduced its energy intensity/ton of steel shipped by 31 percent since 1990.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: GHG/ton of steel shipped have been reduced by nearly 45 percent since 1975.
  • Air and water emissions are 90 percent lower today than 10 years ago. Virtually all hazardous waste once generated by the steel industry is now being recycled for recovery for beneficial use. 
  • For each of the past 10 years, the U.S. steel producers have experienced fewer injuries than the manufacturing average and achieved nearly a 50 percent reduction in the major statistical measures over the same period--even while reaching record levels of productivity. 
  • Only the North American steel industry has reduced energy demands while still increasing production.
  • It used to require 140 pounds of material to make 100 pounds of shipped steel; it now only takes 114 pounds.
  • The North American steel industry has reduced its energy intensity by 60 percent since WW II -- about 31 percent of that reduction in energy intensity has been since 1990.
  • Over 95 percent of the water used for steelmaking is recycled... and the water returned to the stream is often cleaner than when it entered the mill.
  • The amount of steel used to manufacture the container has been reduced by approximately 31 percent, and the amount of tin used has been reduced by more than 60 percent in the past 20 years.
  • The steel recycled from steel food & beverage containers in one year captures enough steel to build 185 arenas the size of the Georgia Dome.
  • Every pound of steel cans recycled conserves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for 26 hours.
1927 Erik Rotheim of Norway patents an aerosol can designed to dispense products using chemical propellants. 1935 On January 24, Kreuger Brewing becomes the first company to sell beer in cans. Krueger's Cream Ale is marketed in flat top steel cans in Richmond, Va. 1940 Carbonated soft drink canning begins, using a type of can called a high profile cone top can. 1941 U.S. soldiers depend on canned field rations, including Hormel Spam, during World War II. 1942-1946 Beer cans are used primarily by military forces and are produced in a drab olive color so as not to reflect light. 1950 Robert H. Abplanalp develops an aerosol clog-free spray valve, creating markets for spray paints and personal care and household products. 1950 Cans make up 26 percent of the packaged beer market. 1954 The first 16-oz beer can is sold. 1955 Cans participate in atomic bomb civil defense tests in Nevada. The canned food tested proves safe to eat. 1957 aluminium is introduced in metal can making. 1958 The first aluminium can is sold. 1959 On January 22, the first all-aluminium two-piece beverage can, a 7-oz Original Coors, is sold. 1960 The last cone top can is filled, and the easy open can is introduced. 1961 Canned soft drinks are dispensed in vending machines for the first time. 1962 Cans with ring-pull lids are test-marketed by Iron City Beer, and ring-pulls are mass marketed the following year. 1963 The efficient two-piece can making method is initiated, and two-piece "drawn and ironed" cans are developed using less material than traditional three-piece cans. Welded and cemented side seam steel cans are issued. 1965 Aluminium soft drink beverage cans are introduced, and tin-free steel cans appear in the U.S. 1966 Drawn and ironed cans are developed in aluminium. The next year, the two top soft drink manufacturers convert to aluminium packaging. 1967 A survey reveals that 98 percent of American homes still have punch can openers, an 1865 invention. 1968 Reynolds pioneers consumer recycling of aluminium. 1969 Canned Carnation Spreadables go to the moon on Apollo II. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat runs a story on beer can collector Denver Wright, and other collectors in Missouri begin to meet and trade beer cans. 1970 On April 15, Beer Can Collectors of America (BCCA) is founded in St. Louis. 1971 In November, Coors fills its last steel can. 1972 Multi-packs of aluminium beverage cans are introduced. By the mid ‘80s, they are a supermarket favorite. The same year, the first reverse vending machine (RVM) debuts, accepting empty cans in exchange for a cash refund. By 2010, there are over 50,000 RVMs in 40 countries. 1975 Non-detachable beverage can ends are introduced and become destined to replace pull-top tabs. 1977 Mini stay-on tabs are introduced. 1984 The last three-piece steel beer can is produced. 1985 On July 31, cans deliver carbonated beverages to astronauts on the moon. The same year cans enter the spirits market. 1989 Water-based varnishes and retained ring-pull ends for beverage cans are introduced. 1991 aluminium beverage can ends are downsized to save natural resources by using less metal to form the ends. Fluted cans are introduced. 1992 Integrated tab die and spin flow necks are developed for beverage cans, and Coors uses a promotional talking can. 1994 Cans with large opening ends are patented for carbonated beverages. 1995 Ball Corp. introduces the touch top end to help the aluminium can better mimic the experience of drinking from a bottle. Colored tabs are introduced for promotions. 1996 Water-based end coatings are introduced. 1997 The counter shaped can is introduced by the Coca-Cola Co. 1998 Embossed beer cans are introduced. 2000 A new blow-forming process creates a teardrop shape for Michelob and Michelob Light 16-oz beverage cans. Marketing options abound: inside-the-can printing, printing on colored tabs and can ends or on the underside of the tab, and UV-sensitive glow-in the dark graphic options. Self-chilling, environmentally friendly cooling beverage cans are test marketed. Silgan introduces the Dot Top resealable lid. 2001 Campbell's Chunky Soup brand is the first to fully convert to easy-open ends. 2002 Oskar Blues, a Colorado brewpub, becomes the first U.S. microbrewery to invest in a canning line. 2002 "A Man, a Can, a Plan: 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make," by David Joachim, Board Book, inspired by an article in Men's Health and a perfect option for the culinary-challenged, is published.2003 Ball Corp. introduces the Fresh Can for health and sport drinks that contain sensitive substances, such as vitamins or probiotics that cannot be preserved in an aqueous solution. The can stores sensitive elements in a plastic "wedge" so that they are not mixed with the beverage until the can is opened. 2006 The first microwavable steel food cans are introduced in North America. 2007 Direct laser engraving conquers exacting graphic demands using six to eight colors to make two-piece cans stand out on store shelves. Translucent colors in 2-pieced draw/redraw aluminium cans with matching or contrasting easy open ends hit store shelves. Colored pull-tabs take off, creating differentiation, convenience and customized color options. 2008 From 65 to 75 percent of all retail cans are fitted with easy-open ends. Silgan introduces shaped aluminium and steel cans that can be customized and run on current filling equipment. Shapes and ergonomics enter the tinplate aerosol can market. The first vented wide mouth can is designed to deliver a smoother, draft-like drinking experience and is introduced by Molson Coors. 2009 Molson Coors introduces a cold activated can whose label color indicates when the beer is cold enough to drink. More than 40 microbreweries and brewpubs distribute beer and lager in aluminium cans. 2010 Heineken USA launches the STR Bottle, an upscale aluminium bottle, which when viewed under the black light of a club illuminates to reveal a previously hidden pattern of stars and trails.