Life Cycle

Through a compilation of industry standards, insights from stakeholders like nongovernmental organizations and suppliers, and our more than 25 years of experience with life cycle assessments (LCA), we identified the most significant environmental and social impacts of Ball’s packaging products at each stage of their life.
The value chain map below simplifies the metal packaging product life cycle and shows the significant impact areas. By knowing where these “hot spots” are, we can manage improvements more effectively.


While the environmental and social impacts of our operations are relevant, those of our supply chain are significantly larger. For example, manufacturing makes up approximately one-fourth of an aluminum beverage can’s overall energy consumption throughout its life. Most energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions occur during metal production, which our suppliers continue to make more efficient. The energy needed to produce a single metric ton of aluminum, for instance, declined 26 percent in the U.S. and Canada between 1995 and 2010.

Life cycle thinking also means that packaging must always be considered in conjunction with the product it protects. Though packaging is not the only answer to the fundamental problem of food loss and waste, it is one part of a multifaceted solution. Metal packaging, in particular, prevents physical damage, protects the contents from the effects of oxygen and contaminants and maintains the nutritional value.

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 is attributable to primary packaging and 51 percent to food supply.



We continue to collaborate with metal suppliers on LCAs. For example, a beverage can LCA conducted by the Aluminum Association was published in 2010 and updated in 2014. These studies show that the extraction and processing of raw materials create the major environmental impacts related to the environmental footprint of beverage cans, and that lightweighting and recycling reduces those impacts.
We share and discuss LCA insights with customers, retailers and regulatory authorities. Based on the LCA results, we identified the processes with the highest impacts and the most effective options to reduce those impacts. This information makes it easier to initiate new projects within our supply chain to reduce the environmental impacts of metal cans even more.
Together with partners from the aluminum and steel industries, European can makers conducted an extensive LCA for beverage cans in 2009. The study shows that beverage can manufacturing accounts for approximately 24 percent of a 50-centiliter can’s overall carbon footprint throughout its life cycle (excluding impacts of the beverage). More than two-thirds of the carbon footprint comes from metal manufacturing.
Customer Perspective

"Being an important business partner for HEINEKEN, Ball provides aluminum cans of highest quality for our beers. Moreover, Ball has joined us in improving the environmental and social impact that both businesses have along our value chains. Thus, Ball is contributing to HEINEKEN's "Brewing a Better Future" sustainability strategy. Examples include:
  1. Responsible supplier - In October 2010, Ball was amongst the first to sign the HEINEKEN Supplier Code. Since then, they have been assessed three times by EcoVadis, our third-party "Suppliers CSR Rating System" that helps us and others manage risks and foster eco-innovations. Ball was able to improve their score each time and their current score places them among our top suppliers in the platform.
  2. Innovation partner - Through sustainable packaging, HEINEKEN addresses some key environmental topics such as energy (CO2) and waste reduction. In the past 20 years, Ball reduced the weight of our beer cans by more than 17 percent whilst improving quality and durability. This is an effective contribution to lower product-related CO2 emissions. In addition, we experience an increase of recycling rates for aluminum in various markets as a result of technological innovation, as well as the cooperation of various industries from production to waste processing. In this context, Ball was, for example, an active working member in the European working group on Packaging and Packaging Waste legislation.
  3. Key stakeholder - For HEINEKEN, stakeholder engagement works two ways: as with customers, NGOs and policy makers, we regularly meet with key suppliers such as Ball to not only address our main topics, but also listen to their advice.
Therefore, we value Ball as a supplier who is proactively striving for improving the quality of our products, the related environmental footprint as well as the impact on the communities we live in."
- Michael Dickstein, Director, Global Sustainable Development, HEINEKEN International
Michael Dickstein Director Global Sustainable Development