Life Cycle

Through a compilation of industry standards, insights from stakeholders like nongovernmental organizations and suppliers, and our more than 25 years of experience with life cycle assessments (LCA), we identified the most significant environmental and social impacts of Ball’s packaging products at each stage of their life.
The value chain map below simplifies the metal packaging product life cycle and shows the significant impact areas. By knowing where these “hot spots” are, we can manage improvements more effectively.


While the environmental and social impacts of our operations are relevant, those of our supply chain are significantly larger. For example, manufacturing makes up approximately one-fourth of an aluminum beverage can’s overall energy consumption throughout its life. Most energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions occur during metal production, which our suppliers continue to make more efficient. Primary aluminum produced in Europe generated 21 percent fewer GHG emissions per ton produced in 2015 compared to 2010. The rolling-mill process also became 25 percent less carbon intensive during that same period. In North America, the carbon footprint of primary aluminum production was reduced by 37 percent per ton of aluminum between 1995 and 2010 – with 75 percent of the electricity required for aluminum production coming from hydropower.

Life cycle thinking also means that packaging must always be considered in conjunction with the product it protects. Though packaging is not the only answer to the fundamental problem of food loss and waste, it is one part of a multifaceted solution. Metal packaging, in particular, prevents physical damage, protects the contents from the effects of oxygen and contaminants and maintains the nutritional value.

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 is attributable to primary packaging and 51 percent to food supply.



We continue to collaborate with metal suppliers on LCAs. For example, a beverage can LCA conducted by the Aluminum Association was published in 2010 and updated in 2014. These studies show that the extraction and processing of raw materials create the major environmental impacts related to the environmental footprint of beverage cans, and that lightweighting and recycling reduces those impacts.
We share and discuss LCA insights with customers, retailers and regulatory authorities. Based on the LCA results, we identified the processes with the highest impacts and the most effective options to reduce those impacts. This information makes it easier to initiate new projects within our supply chain to reduce the environmental impacts of metal cans even more.
Together with partners from the aluminum and steel industries, European can makers conducted an extensive LCA for beverage cans in 2009. The study shows that beverage can manufacturing accounts for approximately 24 percent of a 50-centiliter can’s overall carbon footprint throughout its life cycle (excluding impacts of the beverage). More than two-thirds of the carbon footprint comes from metal manufacturing.