Crown Cork & Seal Company History
If you have used a food or beverage can recently, there is a good chance it was manufactured by Crown Cork & Seal Company. With 20,000 employees in 41 countries and $7.9 billion in net sales, Crown Cork & Seal is the largest plastic and metal manufacturer in the United States, making one out of every five beverage cans used in the world and one out of every three food cans used in the U.S. and Europe. The company also produces other metal and plastic packaging, such as aerosol cans, cosmetic and fragrance containers and can-making equipment.
Crown Cork & Seal dates back to 1892, when founder William Painter invented the “crown cork,” a metal crown used to package soft drinks and beer in bottles. The company was founded in Baltimore, Maryland, but expanded quickly overseas, and by the time of Painter’s death in 1906 was established in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan and Brazil.
In 1936, Crown expanded into the can-making business with the purchase of Acme Can Company, and soon built its first can plant in Philadelphia. The company grew quickly, despite the tough economic situation of the Great Depression, as processed canning became more popular than home canning. In 1946, Crown pioneered the aerosol can, which over the next several decades would considerably fuel the company’s growth, along with the increased popularity of the pull-tab soda can.
The company branched into plastics in the 1990s, and in 1996 acquired CarnaudMetalbox, Europe's leading manufacturer of metal and plastic packaging. This made the company the world’s leader in packaging. In 2005 and 2006, the company sold its European plastics operations and its American cosmetics business, a move that served to make the company more profitable. Crown Cork & Seal Company is now a subsidiary of Crown Holdings, Inc. and is headquartered in Philadelphia.
Asbestos Exposure Risk at Crown Cork & Seal Company
While known for its metal and plastic packaging, it was not Crown Cork & Seal’s canning operations that utilized asbestos. Instead, the company’s ties to the deadly mineral come from a period of time in the 1960s when Crown owned a New York company called Mundet Cork Company. In 1963, Crown Cork spent $7 million to acquire a majority share of stock in the New York-based Mundet Cork, a manufacturer of cork-lined bottle caps and insulation products. The two companies merged two years later, after Crown sold off Mundet’s insulation business.
Several of Mundet’s insulation products contained a naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos. The company was one of thousands to use the substance in their products; since the late 1800s, asbestos had been a go-to product for countless industries because it was inexpensive, easy to obtain, durable and a very effective fire retardant. Thousands upon thousands of workers in a variety of industries worked with asbestos products every day, never dreaming they could be endangering their health and the health of their loved ones.
But since the 1970s and 1980s, the public has become aware that exposure to asbestos products is extremely hazardous. The risk of asbestos particles being released into the air occurs when products containing asbestos age or deteriorate, or when they are torn or cut in the manufacturing or repair process. If a person breathes those particles, they can seriously damage his or her lung tissue and lead to deadly respiratory diseases like mesothelioma cancer and lung cancer.
Products made by Crown Cork/Mundet Cork believed to contain asbestos include (but are not limited to):
- Mundet Mineral Wool Finishing Cement
- Mundet Mineral Wool Insulating Cement
- Mundet Cork 85% Magnesia Asbestos Insulation
- Mundet Block Insulation
- Mundet Pipe Covering
Occupations at Risk for Asbestos Exposure
Anyone who worked with or near Crown Cork/Mundet Cork’s asbestos-containing insulation products could be at risk for developing an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis. Exposure could have occurred in a Mundet Cork plant where the insulation was manufactured, or at any of the countless oil refineries or other companies that purchased Mundet’s insulation products for use in their plants.
Insulation workers – individuals who installed and maintained insulation used to keep pipes, walls, boilers and other surfaces cool and safe from fire – are especially at risk of contracting an asbestos-related disease because of the confined spaces in which they work.
Unfortunately, family members of these workers may have been unknowingly harmed by asbestos as well. Asbestos dust clings easily to clothing, shoes and hair, so anyone who handled dusty work clothes may have been put at risk.
It can take decades for symptoms of mesothelioma cancer to appear in the human body, so asbestos exposure years ago could affect your health today. Take the time to learn about the mesothelioma risk factors and treatment options.
As of March 2011, Crown Cork & Seal had been named as a defendant in numerous lawsuits by people who say their health – or the health of a loved one – was affected by the company’s asbestos-containing products. As of May 2003, Crown had reportedly paid upwards of $413 million in settlements.
Author: Tara Strand
Senior Content WriterRead about Tara
Reviewer: Jennifer R. Lucarelli
Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their FamiliesRead about Jennifer
Crown Cork and Seal – History
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