Since we published our first biennial sustainability report in 2008, Ball Corporation has reported environmental data in absolute and normalized terms. Absolute data provides an overview on the overall environmental impacts, while normalized data enables comparability of data over time.

In our various businesses, we produce a variety of products ranging from beverage cans to satellites. Within each business, we use a different normalization factor that adequately represents the nature of the business and the way it operates. This allows for comparisons over time and for benchmarking our manufacturing facilities.

Business/Product Group Normalization Factor
Beverage, food and tinplate aerosol cans per unit of production
Extruded aluminum packaging per unit of production
Aluminum slugs per weight of product sold
Aerospace per sales

We will continue to be as transparent as possible and report absolute and normalized data. We normalize performance indicators to align with business decision-making and to allow clearer communication of performance to stakeholders, allowing them to evaluate our performance in a meaningful way. This approach also aligns well with our Drive for 10 business strategy by providing flexibility for future business changes, as we expand into new products and capabilities.

A Look Back

In our 2008 and 2010 corporate sustainability reports, we initially normalized corporate environmental data on a consistent “per 1,000 units of production” basis. As long as our businesses and products did not change, this method adequately described the relative improvements of our sustainability performance.

However, our businesses and products do change over time―sometimes significantly, which has led to various inconsistencies between the indicator data (such as electricity or water) and the normalization factor (unit of production). For example, we sold our PET business in 2009. That business produced vast amounts of units (bottles, preforms), while using an insignificant amount of natural gas. In 2010, we bought plants that manufacture aluminum slugs. The slug process is more complex than plastic bottle production, creates fewer products and uses more natural gas per unit of production.

As a result, using different normalization factors allows us to provide meaningful data aligned with how our businesses/product groups report data internally, and allows our stakeholders to adequately assess the progress we have made in our operations.


Normalization Per Sales

A common practice in sustainability reporting is the normalization per sales. While this normalization makes sense for our aerospace business, it would lead to significant―but misleading―percentage improvements in the environmental performance of the entire corporation.

Because the majority of our sales are associated with variable material costs, we do not believe this is an adequate way to describe our corporate-wide sustainability performance. For example, an increase in metal costs and consequently the price of packaging we sell to our customers would lead to higher sales numbers and improve our relative performance number without improving our operations.