Metal Packaging

Metal cans are a sustainable and smart packaging solution for beverages, food and aerosols. Here are a few reasons why:
  • 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.
Approximately 70 percent of all aluminum cans are recycled globally. Steel packaging can be separated easily from other waste via magnets and therefore achieves a global recycling rate of 68 percent. With these global rates, the can is 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, you must consider its entire life cycle. That is why Ball has been involved in life cycle assessments since the mid-1980s.


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.


Though often invisible to the outside world, many of Ball’s successful product and process innovations—such as lightweighting our containers or increasing manufacturing speeds—provide significant environmental and economic benefits to the company, our customers and consumers.
We continually develop packaging innovations designed to appeal to and add convenience or functional benefits for consumers. The G3-HD, ReAl, Dynamark™ variable printing technology and our reclosable Alumi-Tek® bottle are prime examples. Because innovation is critical to growing our business and helping our customers grow theirs, we work closely with customers and suppliers to identify and develop ideas to improve our products.
We evaluate innovations through multiple lenses, including consumer benefits, resource requirements, costs, carbon footprints and the impact of product innovations on the recycling process. Over the past decade, customers and consumers have been increasingly interested in sustainable products. Our development of lightweight, durable, infinitely recyclable aluminum and steel packaging meets this evolving need.


Less Weight, Smaller Footprint

We aim to make the lightest metal containers possible while meeting the performance requirements of our customers and consumers. Even small lightweighting improvements save significant amounts of metal when multiplied by the billions of containers that Ball produces annually.
Throughout the value chain, we significantly reduce costs, energy use and emissions by using less metal in our containers. We know from life cycle assessments that reducing the weight of containers is one of the two main levers to lessen the environmental footprint of our packaging. That is why lightweighting represents a major contribution to our 2020 beverage can carbon footprint reduction target.



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. Ball is committed to responding to customer needs and we will continue to work proactively with our suppliers and customers to evaluate next generation coatings.



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.

Mike Feldser
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

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