North America

In 2015, the North American recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans was 64 percent and the rate for steel packaging was 70 percent in 2013. While these numbers continue to be much higher compared with other packaging substrates, many challenges and opportunities exist as we work to increase packaging recycling rates further.

According to a 2016 study commissioned by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, curbside recycling programs, typically the most convenient program for consumers, are available to 73 percent of the U.S. population, with 53 percent of the population having curbside recycling “automatically” provided at their home, while the other 20 percent has a type of subscription or opt-in recycling program available. While these access rates need to increase, there are several other parameters that need to get improved simultaneously. For example, participation rates need to increase, large roll-carts should replace smaller bins, and residents have to be educated about what and how to recycle.


The Recycling Partnership

Ball has been an active supporter of The Recycling Partnership (TRP), formerly the Curbside Value Partnership, since its founding in 2003. TRP’s mission is to educate, inspire and empower stakeholders to strategically strengthen recycling in the U.S. TRP’s broad spectrum of allied partners and grantees focus on driving quantity and quality in the recycled materials stream. 2015 was the first full year TRP was active and progress has been bold: TRP reached 1.2 million households in 71 communities, delivered 165,000 carts and captures 25,000 additional tons of recyclable materials per year. This equates to avoiding 56,800 metric tons of GHG emissions annually, while adding jobs in the respective regions and building a pipeline of recovered materials for various industries.

To build program improvements that last, TRP offers communities technical and financial assistance around four key areas:
  • Access: Ensuring all households with curbside collection are served by large roll carts.
  • Champion Building: Building support from local and state elected officials.
  • Regional Coordination: Creating a strategy across the entire supply chain, ensuring the use of best management practices and appropriate acceptance of the “new normal” of common material types.
  • Education and Outreach: Increasing participation and reducing contamination.


Ball also supports various regional and state nonprofit recycling organizations that aim to promote and enhance recycling in the U.S. For example:
  • The Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) works to unite industry, government, and non-government organizations to promote sustainable recycling in 11 states in the southeastern U.S., including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, where Ball operates manufacturing plants.
  • The Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR) is a nonprofit organization that actively works to promote and encourage recycling through educational programs for Colorado residents, local governments, businesses and elected officials.
  • In early 2015, Ball joined STAR, the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling. STAR builds and supports end markets by coordinating stakeholders to find common ground through information sharing and partnerships that get recyclable materials to market. Through data-driven advocacy, STAR is shaping and defining the future of materials management in Texas.
Other examples of how Ball supports recycling in the communities where we operate include:
  • The 2015-2016 Great American Can Roundup (GACR) School Challenge engaged more than 23,700 students from 35 states, diverting nearly 5 million aluminum cans. Schools competing in the GACR School Challenge raised more than $73,000 for future activities and local charities.
  • As part of the annual GACR Industry Challenge, can manufacturers and aluminum suppliers engage their U.S. facilities and surrounding communities to collect cans. In 2016, more than 5.7 million beverage cans were collected, raising $80,000 for local charities. Ball employees collected more than 4 million cans for the industry challenge, raising nearly $40,000 for charities in the communities where we operate.
  • Several Ball facilities sponsor a recycling scholarship contest, which offers five $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors who collect the most cans in a six-month period. For example, five schools near our Findlay, Ohio, plant collected 554,000 cans in 2015. During the contest, Ball employees visited the schools and explained the benefits of recycling.
  • Ball supports several local customer-led recycling programs. For example, in Golden, Colorado, which is home to significant production locations for Ball and one of our customers, residents annually collect approximately 560 metric tons of recyclables at a public drop-off recycling center that is co-financed by the partners.
  • Ball also supports the University of Colorado and some of its sustainability programs, including the “Green on the Screen” contest. During this digital media contest, a partnership between Ball and the University of Colorado Environmental Center, students use their creative skills and digital technology to promote sustainability on campus. The focus of the contest is to promote aluminum recycling and raise awareness on how it ties into the school’s zero waste goal of 90 percent landfill diversion by 2020.