All aluminium products can be recycled. The metal will return to its pure, original state in the recycling process and can be totally repurposed. While making aluminium from bauxite requires a lot of energy once made the aluminium can be recycled over and over and that requires a lot less energy. So the more aluminium we recycle the more positive the environmental impact.
Today most aluminium foil trays and containers can be safely used in the microwave. Check the instructions and if there is no warning on the packaging then you can safely heat your food in the appliance.
Everything not containing acid or salt can be wrapped in foil. Even liquids can be held in a container shaped from household foil. And as foil can handle extremes of temperature it can be used both to freeze food or to cook in the oven.
Foil can keep out light, moisture, odours and, because of its conductivity, can even keep out some temperature fluctuations, so can keep hot food warm while its being delivered, or cold or frozen foods cooler for longer. It is also good at keeping freshness and aromas of the food or beverage, such as coffee, inside the pack. Foil can also be used in retorts or autoclaves to process foods, like petfood, inside the pack thanks to its ability to withstand high temperatures. This enables products to be kept at ambient (not frozen or chilled) temperatures for long periods.
Perhaps the most important additional property (in addition to its barrier features) is the deadfold ability of foil, which means it can take the shape of almost anything it is used to wrap. This is a very important aspect for the confectionery industry which can use foil to take the shape of figures or spheres, so the Easter Bunny or chocolate bon bons, which greatly enhances the look of the product. Foil is shiny in its natural state so can be decorated by various print methods to increase its quality impact even more. Modern laminating and coating technologies also mean that foil lids can be easy to seal and peel and not tear.
While food is probably the biggest market for foil it is also used in the pharmaceutical sector for things like blister packaging and, for highly sensitive medicines, as a pillow pack (using all round aluminium foil) as a highly effective barrier to moisture and heat. This helps these medicines to be transported to remote or difficult to reach regions. In the beverage sector foil is still used extensively for decoration of bottles (neck foil) or labels to give that sheen of quality to the product.
Two of the latest pack formats using foil are pouches for products like soups, sauces, juices and powders, and coffee pods. Pouches are now one of the biggest growth styles of pack thanks to their convenience, light weight and easy open/reclose features. Pods are now one of the biggest selling coffee containers globally and can be highly decorated. Indeed many consumers have special racks in their kitchens to show off the colourful or exotic designs now used to identify the different coffee types available.