Because access to fresh water is vital to consumers, our customers, our suppliers and Ball, we hold ourselves accountable for conserving and protecting water resources in our products, the communities where we operate and our entire value chain. A growing world population with greater demands for water-intensive food and energy, combined with increasing water needs and severe pollution of water resources in emerging economies, pose significant water supply constraints in some regions.


We are responsible stewards of water, using as little as possible for each product we produce. We continue implementing projects to better understand and manage regional and local water impacts. In 2018, Ball used 10.1 million cubic meters of water worldwide, primarily for forming, washing, rinsing and cooling. Our global beverage packaging business accounted for 94 percent of the total. To ensure we have reliable data, we engaged ERM Certification and Verification Services (ERM CVS) to provide limited assurance in relation to our 2018 water consumption. 

Ball’s most water-intensive process is washing our cans during manufacturing. On average, washers account for about two-thirds of the total water consumption in a beverage can plant. To create efficiencies, Ball’s washer process occurs in counter-current cascades to reuse water at different washing stages.

To better understand, monitor and improve our water usage, Ball continues to invest in water monitoring equipment and installing new water meters. Since 2012, for example, we have equipped washers in our North American and some European beverage can plants with water meters. Enhanced water monitoring increases the visibility of water consumption, fosters employee awareness and enables us to better understand and optimize our systems.  We also invested in wastewater treatment technologies, evaluated advanced treatment options for effluents and installed several pilot systems to enable water reuse. Additionally, our innovation teams are examining breakthrough technologies and innovative equipment that will allow us to change how and how much water we use in our operations.
Case Study: Making Waves in Water Reclamation

While water reclamation is not a new idea in our business, it can be cost-prohibitive. Since regional regulation in India dictates that the only discharge method—even for treated water —is evaporation, the financial case was obvious for our greenfield plant in Ahmedabad, India.
Because the impact extrusion process requires significant amounts of water, our engineering teams brainstormed ideas to install a full treatment system to reclaim as much water as possible.

The plant partnered with a local company to design an onsite system to recycle the water, eliminating discharge costs and highlighting our commitment to water stewardship in the local community. The collaboration of third-party expertise with our water reclamation experience was successful. The new treatment system recycles water in two steps. In the flocculation step, process water is brought to a neutral pH during primary treatment, then is slowly and gently mixed so particles can group together into flocs. After this occurs, gravity removes suspended solids from the water through sedimentation. Then the sediment is processed into filter cakes—much like other plants generate through waste water treatment. All filter cake generated through this process is diverted to local companies for beneficial use. During secondary treatment, the water is cooled and filtered, and goes through two phases of reverse osmosis to further eliminate contaminants in the water so it can be reused in the manufacturing processes.

Though the plant only began producing cans in the second half of 2015, the project already has achieved significant results, reclaiming 95 percent of the plant’s water with only 5 percent lost through evaporation, during reverse osmosis, and in the filter cake. Like many best practices within our operations, this successful new process has been shared with other Ball engineers.

Paal Klykken
In several plants, we also appointed local water champions. These employees analyze water data, control water-consuming equipment and drive enhancements. While our goal is to reduce water consumption as much as possible, we also must diligently monitor the quality of produced cans. If we reduce the water intake of washers too much, the quality of our cans is affected and spoilage increases.

Because water is used in many steps along the packaging value chain—whether in mining and metal manufacturing or electricity generation—as well as in the production of the products that are put into our packaging, we maintain an open dialogue with our suppliers, customers and the communities where we operate.



Water scarcity, quality and discharge are operational and reputational risks for Ball and our value chain partners. Since 2013, we have utilized tools developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute to map our facilities against watershed stress areas. As of year-end 2017, 9 of Ball's 88 packaging manufacturing plants were located in water-stressed areas (<1,700 cubic meters of renewable water per person per year). We continue to focus on reducing water usage in plants where water availability is an issue for local communities or where it creates operational challenges for us. We use these insights when planning new plants or introducing more water-intensive products at existing ones.

As our company transforms, we will continue to evaluate our resource and operational footprint and the associated risk factors to establish a Global Water Framework. This framework will formalize our global water stewardship efforts and outline a clear strategy for further engagement and conservation in our operations and along our value chain.
Employee Perspective

"Since I first joined the can industry in 1996, we have continuously optimized water usage, quality, treatment, and reuse. And without a doubt, we have made significant progress. For example, across our European network, we use 33 percent less water today to produce the same amount of cans, when compared with 2003.

For the last five years, the focus on water stewardship has increased significantly within Ball. Our global team of water engineers is leading exciting technology trials and we review and compare impacts and remaining challenges of these technologies and their applicability across our plant portfolio on a regular basis. We are eager to learn from other industries, academia and entrepreneurs to help us transform the way we use and reuse water.

Personally, I am thrilled about the Zero Liquid Discharge technology that we installed in our La Selva, Spain plant, which completely eliminates all liquid discharge from our manufacturing lines. The next development stage is already underway and we are installing the second ZLD system in our new plant in Madrid. The project team has been working diligently for a year now to make it happen. The new ZLD concept will allow for water recovery rates of around 95 percent, eliminating the need for a separate waste water treatment plant on-site, and achieving a truly closed water loop. We believe that this new ZLD evolution would be the most advanced sustainable water technology ever applied in a beverage can plant.

The water-related challenges we are facing are very different in each region, and may require different solutions. While we have to focus on the level of organic and inorganic compounds in water discharge in one region to operate in line with regulatory limits, water availability or quality of the incoming water might be challenges in other parts of the world. We also have to keep in mind that everything is interconnected, which is why we are always looking at all inputs and their impact on the outputs. For example, when we reduce the water intake in our washers, the quality of the cans we ship could be affected and the contaminant levels in our waste water might exceed acceptable limits. So each time we change one parameter, we have to adjust several others in order to be successful. This balancing act remains the biggest operational challenge we are facing in terms of water stewardship."
- Humberto Darlim, Chemical Process Manager, Ball Beverage Packaging Europe