Metal Packaging

Ball is a global leader in metal packaging for beverage, food and aerosol products. We look at metal packaging with passion and purpose. The unique sustainability profile of metal packaging is one of its many advantages when compared with other packaging materials.
  • Cans are 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality
  • Cans are the most recycled food and beverage containers in the world
  • Cans have the highest scrap value, subsidizing the collection and recycling of other materials
  • Cans are recycled through a well-established and efficient infrastructure
  • Cans can be recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in just 60 days
  • Cans are stackable and have a high cubic efficiency, making them cost-effective to transport
  • Cans are lightweight, unbreakable and provide superior product protection
  • Cans chill faster and stay colder longer


Metal cans are produced using abundant and recycled materials. Because the earth’s crust consists of approximately eight percent aluminum, it is the third most common element. Steel is made from iron-ore, limestone and coking coal, three very common natural resources. Iron is the fourth most plentiful element.

Both, steel packaging via magnets and aluminum cans via eddy current technology, can be separated easily from other substrates in the waste stream. Approximately 70 percent of all aluminum cans and 68 percent of all steel packaging are recycled globally, making the can the world’s most recycled packaging product.

Because metals are 100 percent and infinitely recyclable, they can be reused in various applications to become new products again and again. Metal recycling has been around as long as metals have existed. In fact, nearly 75 percent of all aluminum and 80 to 90 percent of all steel ever produced is still in use today. Thanks to the well-established recycling infrastructure, a recycled aluminum package can be back on the store shelf in as little as 60 days.

To understand metal packaging’s environmental performance and its role in a circular economy, the entire life cycle of the product must be considered. That is why Ball has been involved in life cycle assessments since the mid-1980s.

Dedicated to Innovation

In every step—from concept, design, manufacturing and filling to delivery of the final product to the consumer—innovation helps us identify and drive profitable growth. We work closely with our customers to understand their businesses and consumer demand, as well as the challenges and trends they encounter so we can develop industry-leading packaging solutions and graphics to help them grow their businesses.

Often invisible to the outside world, many of Ball’s successful product and process innovations—such as weight optimization of our cans or increasing manufacturing speeds—provide significant environmental and economic benefits to the company, our customers and consumers. We evaluate innovations through a variety of lenses, including consumer benefits, carbon footprints, costs and the impact of new products on the recycling process.

Our intent is to make the lightest metal containers possible while meeting the performance requirements of our customers. Even small weight optimizations save significant amounts of metal, costs, energy and emissions when multiplied by the billions of containers that Ball produces each year (click here for an example). That is why weight optimization represents a major contribution to our 2020 beverage can carbon footprint reduction target.

Net Positive

Packaging is only a small fraction of the overall waste generated in the household, commercial and industrial sectors. However, it is very visible and, in a world of scarce resources, attracts attention from consumers, the media and NGOs.

Packaging is a part of a multifaceted solution to the issues of food loss and waste in the supply chain. Packaging plays a critical role in delivering products to consumers safely, conveniently and in perfect condition. Packaging protects and preserves food, beverages and other products as they move through supply chains. Well-designed packaging meets the product’s requirements while minimizing the economic and environmental impacts of the product and its package.

Metal packaging, in particular, prevents physical damage, protects the contents from the effects of oxygen and contaminants and maintains the nutritional value while providing convenience, portion control, space for consumer messaging and more efficient logistics.

Overall, packaging protects far more resources than it uses. The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) estimates that of all the energy used for one person’s weekly food consumption, only 6.5 percent can be attributed to primary packaging and 51 percent to food supply. The holistic debate about packaging and the products it protects presents considerable opportunities for packaging and can help focus the debate about a product’s environmental impacts on what matters most.
Kim Marotta
Customer Perspective
“In our quest to create America’s best beer company, MillerCoors remains committed to providing products and services of superb quality and value to its customers and our consumers. It is vital for our suppliers to understand that we expect the highest standard of conduct. That is why suppliers like Ball must adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct and why we assess each supplier’s performance through Sedex, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange. Beyond these compliance-focused initiatives, we also expect a high level of sustainable innovations. For packaging, that means we strive to continuously optimize the packaging, reduce the material used per unit and ensure that used containers do not escape the recycling process. We need to continue to educate, encourage and remind businesses and the public that metals are essentially infinitely recyclable.
Our strategic partnership with Ball Corporation truly exemplifies value chain collaboration in order to deliver against our sustainability goals. In support of MillerCoors 2020 target to reduce the carbon footprint of its packaging by 25%, Ball launched its Cut/4 CArboN program in 2014. Together we endeavor/aim to increase energy efficiency in our production facilities, take additional weight out of our cans, work with our supplier partners, and further improve the recycling rates of beverage cans.  A prime example of our successful partnership is our joint venture can manufacturing plant in Golden, Colorado. The plant increased energy efficiency by more than 3 percent over the last two years, we started producing a 15 percent lighter can end, and jointly, we continue to fund a local recycling drop-off, providing recycling access to residents of Golden and neighboring communities.”
-        Kim Marotta, Director Sustainability, MillerCoors


Nearly all aluminum and steel beverage and food cans made today use epoxy-based resin coatings as a barrier between the metal and the products in the can, extending the shelf life of the canned product.

The epoxy resin that gives these coatings their durability may include trace amounts of bisphenol A (BPA). Regulatory agencies from around the world have conducted extensive research on epoxy-based can coatings containing BPA and have consistently found them to be safe. Nevertheless, Ball recognizes the interest in non-epoxy-based coatings and is committed to responding to customer needs. We will continue to work proactively with our suppliers and customers to evaluate next-generation coatings.

Collaboration is Key

Ball’s technology team is working with suppliers and research organizations to identify innovative new technologies, equipment, materials and processes that will simplify manufacturing, eliminate barriers when broadening our geographic reach, and contribute to our sustainability goals and those of our customers.

To further enhance and promote metal packaging’s sustainability credentials, Ball collaborates with many industry partners in various ways. In addition to our memberships in various organizations that advance the sustainability credentials of packaging, we participated – for example – in the development of the "Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability 2.0" (GPPS), published by the Consumer Goods Forum. The GPPS ensures a common language and metrics that enable informed discussions about packaging and sustainability.


Contact Ball

For more information

T: +1 303 460 4429