First aTULC Can Plant in the United States Expands Can Packaging Capabilities for Premium Beverage

American Canning has opened the first aTULC can plant in the United States, leading the way in sustainably-focused, high performance, beverage-can manufacturing for 'hard-to-hold' premium beverages.

First aTULC Can Plant in the United States Expands Can Packaging Capabilities for Premium Beverage

Vision and Inception

Austin, TX is known as both the “Silicon Hills” and the “Live Music Capital of the World,” but most people outside the city just know they’re supposed to “Keep Austin Weird.” What those three phrases combine to mean is that Austin is a place for innovation, fun, and thinking outside the box. As a result, it’s the home to some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies, including dozens of premium beverage producers and some of the fastest growing CPG beverage brands in the market.

These factors make Austin the perfect home for American Canning’s groundbreaking aTULC beverage-can manufacturing plant. The facility is not only revolutionizing access to aluminum cans for today’s most innovative beverage makers, it features a first-of-its-kind design, allowing the build to occur within city limits, and creating dozens of green, urban jobs. 

Though American Canning has been in the industry for more than a decade, their journey into the future of aluminum cans didn’t officially begin until the summer of 2022. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for to-go beverages sky-rocketed. As a result, many of the nation’s leading can manufacturers re-allocated their demand to solely meet the needs of their largest customers. To put it more bluntly: Cans were going to light beer and soft drinks while craft beer and other independent, innovative beverages were cut off.

Simultaneously, as consumers became more promiscuous and more beverage makers ventured into new products and beverage types, it became increasingly apparent that not only was supply focused towards more traditional beverages types, the cans themselves were only designed to satisfy the requirements of these same products. Traditional cans within the market weren’t meant to hold the products innovators were creating. RTD cocktails, fruit juice mixes, high sodium electrolyte/hydration drinks, cannabevs and more were all experiencing varying levels of can failure, up to and including eating through the epoxy and BPANI liners on the can. 

Beverage makers were creating products that the public was enthusiastic about, but their packaging options were limited. 

American Canning knew that they needed to meet their customers’ needs with a solution that protected their products, pleased consumers, and was environmentally friendly. The task was daunting, but it was clear that it was the right time to introduce the American craft and premium beverage industry to an innovation that has been used in Japan for decades: aTULC. 

To achieve this, American Canning needed to build a brand new facility that would change the craft beverage industry. 

Mike Daniel, Co-Founder and COO of American Canning, highlighted the importance of this venture, saying, "This is a milestone for American Canning, and for the craft industry. We are excited to embark on this manufacturing journey to create a can supply that provides greater accessibility and increased capabilities for craft."

Development Timeline

  • June 7, 2022: Announcement of the construction start for the new can manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas.
  • November 7, 2022: Discussion on the origin of sustainable can making, highlighting the environmentally friendly aTULC process which reduces operational footprints and eliminates reliance on water as a critical resource in can manufacturing.
  • December 2022: First production of aTULC
  • February 23, 2023: Introduction of aTULC technology in the US, with a focus on providing a third, more robust liner option that enhances compatibility with a wide range of beverages.
  • March 3, 2023: Ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates the successful installation of the aTULC manufacturing line, marking the operational start of one of the world’s most sustainable can plants, capable of producing up to 300 million standard cans per year.

Sustainability at Its Core

Sustainability is at the core of American Canning's operations. The facility utilizes the aluminum Toyo Ultimate Can (aTULC) process, a technology that significantly reduces the environmental impact of can manufacturing. Originally developed in the early 1970s and refined over decades, this process uses pre-coated aluminum sheet which eliminates the need for water and harsh chemicals — commonly excessive in traditional can manufacturing. 

aTULC’s waterless production saves approximately 20,000 gallons of water per day compared to traditional methods and eliminates the need for wastewater treatment. This allows the facility to operate within the Austin city limits without environmental compromise.

Expanding the Craft Beverage Packaging Spectrum

Historically, beverages with high acidity, high sodium chloride, sulfites, or cannabinoids have struggled in aluminum packaging. These products find microscopic holes in the spray-on lining of traditional BPANI and epoxy cans and cause corrosion which leads to can failures that can ruin entire batches of product. Though these failures are relatively rare, for any business producing beverages at high volumes, it is almost guaranteed to happen to a can from time-to-time, which is entirely too often for a product with a high production cost.

Unlike the spray-on liners, aTULC’s can liners are rolled onto the aluminum sheet before the cans are formed, leaving no room for unlined spots, or microfissures, on the can once it’s formed. aTULC cans are built to hold challenging beverages for long periods of time, preventing can failure and saving companies from losing tens of thousands of dollars. Not to mention, allowing consumers to enjoy premium beverages on the go in a more convenient and sustainable package than traditional glass or PET vessels.

David Racino, Co-founder and CEO, explained the significance of this development, "US craft is experiencing strong growth in many categories that have traditionally struggled with compatibility in aluminum cans. Our business has always been centered on enabling brands to make their way into cans. The introduction of aTULC as a third liner option will allow craft producers to completely reimagine the types of products that can be packaged in cans," he said.

The aTULC plant is part of an evolution in the beverage space. As tastes, behaviors, and expectations in the market change, producers will have to adapt.  

The Significance of aTULC Manufacturing for the Craft Industry

The establishment of a US-based manufacturing facility like American Canning's aTULC plant plays a crucial role in supporting the craft industry across the United States. By localizing production, American Canning ensures a more reliable supply chain and faster turnaround times for craft producers, crucial for small businesses that need to respond quickly to market demands. Moreover, the plant's commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices reflects a shared value with many craft producers who prioritize environmental responsibility. This alignment not only fosters growth within the craft industry but also strengthens the community and economic development by supporting local jobs and technologies.

Creating Urban, Green Jobs in Craft

American Canning’s plant significantly contributes to the local economy by creating green jobs that support sustainable manufacturing practices. As an American manufacturing company, it not only bolsters the US craft industry by providing a reliable supply of high-quality cans but also prioritizes environmentally friendly processes. This initiative aligns with the values of the craft industry, which champions local production and ecological stewardship, fostering a community committed to both craftsmanship and sustainability.

Consumer Behavior: Embracing Sustainable Packaging

The plant's commitment to sustainability resonates with evolving consumer preferences. Today's consumers are increasingly seeking products that align with environmental values, pushing brands to adopt eco-friendly packaging solutions. American Canning's use of the aTULC process, which minimizes waste and conserves resources, appeals to this eco-conscious demographic, potentially increasing brand loyalty and market share among consumers who prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

For Craft: Leveraging Local and Sustainable Manufacturing

For craft producers, the presence of a local, sustainable canning facility like American Canning's aTULC plant represents a transformative shift. Producers are increasingly drawn to manufacturing partners who provide high-quality, customizable packaging solutions and also share a commitment to environmental stewardship. This shift encourages more craft producers to consider sustainable practices in their production processes and in their packaging choices, fostering a more sustainable craft industry ecosystem.

Future Direction

As American Canning works with customers to unlock even more capabilities of aTULC cans, the plant is not only a manufacturing facility but also a sign of an evolving industry. 

Looking ahead, American Canning is set to ramp production to a capacity of approximately 300 million cans per year. This scale of production is aimed at meeting the needs of small to medium sizes craft producers who require flexible packaging options​. 

As American Canning moves forward, it remains focused on its role as a leader in the craft beverage industry, continually pushing the boundaries of what's possible in beverage packaging through technological innovation, strategic partnerships, and a deep understanding of market dynamics. 

With CPG always pushing forward, creating new products, and finding ways to meet consumer demand. American Canning will be there every step of the way to support these innovations at our US-based facility.