Metals, like aluminum and iron, are completely and infinitely recyclable. Because they are elements and never lose their intrinsic properties, metals are recognized as permanent materials, or resources that can be used again and again without loss of quality. When metal products reach the end of their useful life, the product application (like a can) ends, but the metal endures. Other packaging substrates such as plastic and paper do not share this unique sustainability feature.
Mined as the minerals bauxite and iron ore, aluminum and iron are the third and fourth most abundant elements on Earth. Transforming these ores into aluminum and steel is an energy-intensive process, so metal recycling saves significant resources and energy because mining, refining and smelting are not required.
Recycling steel saves 74 percent of the energy required to produce primary steel. Compared to primary aluminum production, using recycled aluminum requires only 8 percent of the energy needed for primary material.

North America

South America




Metal cans are the most recycled packaging containers in the world. In several countries, such as Brazil, China, Germany and Switzerland, metal packaging recycling rates are 90 percent or more. However, collection programs in some countries are not performing as well, so we focus our support in these regions.
The metal containers we manufacture are collected through multiple channels, such as local government recycling programs (e.g. curbside), industry recovery efforts and our direct recovery initiatives. The most convenient program for consumers typically is curbside recycling, where all common household recyclables are collected at the curb, requiring only the separation of materials into recycling bins. Because most collection systems are locally managed, a tremendous amount of variation can occur and is challenging.
Recovery programs depend on reliable markets for recycled materials and sufficient revenues to offset collection and processing costs. Because metal cans are the most valuable packaging container in the recycling stream, they often subsidize the recovery of other packages with little or no value.


Collection programs accept many different packaging types, but that does not necessarily mean that the material will be recycled into a new product. The actual recycling rate is determined by numerous factors, including the use of composite materials, how the package behaves in a material recovery facility and the existence of a viable end market for the material. Metal cans are easily separated from other materials using magnets or “eddy current” technology that efficiently sorts aluminum.
Recycling is an essential part of metal packaging’s life cycle. Aluminum and steel have enjoyed enormous growth rates in their main end-use markets, including packaging, over the past hundred years. Because demand for secondary metal far exceeds the supply and empty cans have a high market value, metal cans are the perfect example of truly recyclable packaging.



Ball is just one stakeholder in the vastly complex collection and recycling system that typically consists of material and packaging suppliers, consumer brands, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers. Because each of these organizations has an interest in packaging recycling and, therefore, a role to help improve recycling rates, we utilize a collaborative approach to enhance packaging collection and recycling.
Though many believe that local governments are responsible for collecting and recovering packaging materials, they in many cases do not have the funding to develop and maintain effective recovery programs. As a result, public and private resources must be better leveraged and coordinated to optimize packaging recovery and create positive change.
Higher recycling rates help make economies more resource efficient, encourage job creation, reduce packaging’s environmental impact, help realize governments’ environmental expectations, and thereby directly benefit our customers, retailers and the metal packaging industry.