Ball

Product Stewardship

BY ENHANCING THE UNIQUE SUSTAINABILITY CREDENTIALS OF OUR PRODUCTS ALONG THEIR LIFE CYCLE, WE POSITION THEM AS THE MOST SUSTAINABLE CHOICE AND HELP OUR CUSTOMERS GROW THEIR BUSINESS.

Ball manufactures billions of metal packaging products and a handful of highly specialized aerospace systems each year. While the products are very different, we aim to be the best stewards throughout their life cycle. From research and development through product design, manufacturing and end-of-life, we ensure that our products create value for our stakeholders while minimizing environmental and social impacts. Sustainable products and innovations are what our customers seek from their supply chain.
Metal Packaging

Metal Packaging

Understanding the lifecycle of our products to better develop sustainable packaging solutions.

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Aerospace

Aerospace

Technological and scientific advancements to help scientists better understand our atmosphere.

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Responsible Sourcing

Responsible Sourcing

Building a sustainable supply chain through collaborative relationships with our suppliers.

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SHIFTING PARADIGMS

The majority of corporate product stewardship strategies center around resource efficiency, particularly in terms of lightweighting, sustainably produced materials, recyclability and product carbon footprints. Metal packaging performs well in these categories. For example, beverage cans are fully recyclable and the weight of standard cans was reduced by up to 40 percent over the last 25 years.

However, driven by a more informed and robust discussion around systemic sustainability challenges and holistic product design, product stewardship must move more quickly from small incremental changes on some isolated issues to creating a circular economy. Circularity is about retaining material value and complexity as much as possible and for as long as possible—ideally without any degradation. Instead of focusing on making products as cheap as possible and a little less harmful, products must be designed so that they are recycled easily and infinitely. In a truly circular economy, product production costs, as well as all product life cycle-related costs, should be considered.

 

CIRCULARITY BY DESIGN

The old take, make, waste paradigm has created products that are extremely cheap to produce yet very expensive to be recycled. Products made of only one material or designed for easy disassembly, do not require complex processing before the materials are recycled. Recyclability claims suggest that it is a great achievement when a product is recyclable. The truth is that recyclability is only an achievement when a product is consistently and infinitely recycled and the material can be kept in the loop without loss in material quality.

For many products, technical capabilities are insufficient to fully close the material loop and it is cheaper to use primary instead of recycled materials. Additionally, significant losses in material quality and quantity still exist even in some established recycling processes. Materials that lose some of their inherent properties when recycled prohibit a truly circular economy.

With permanent materials such as metals, the material’s inherent properties do not change during use or when repeatedly recycled into new products. Recycling them does not necessarily require the addition of primary material or other additives to enable the basic material function and properties.

A circular economy strives to create favorable conditions for economically viable recycling, rather than developing lowest cost products that are not recycled and require expensive recycling technologies to be recovered. Instead of trying to develop end-of-the-pipe solutions, businesses must invest in creating truly circular products in the first place. During product design, the following questions should be answered:
  • Are all materials used in a product recyclable or only some?
  • Is a material actually recycled or only collected for recycling then sent to landfill?
  • Can the material be recycled infinitely or is it only recyclable once or twice before it becomes waste?
  • Is a product recyclable everywhere or only in a laboratory set-up?
  • Is all of the input material available as recycled output or is a significant portion of the material lost during recycling?
  • Is a product recycled into something of similar value or is it downcycled into a product of less value that might not be recycled again?

Partnerships

We work individually and collaboratively with our value chain partners to decouple economic growth from environmental and social impacts of our products along their life cycles. These partnerships range from individual organizations, such as a customer, to a consortium of private and public partners, and address a single, regional sustainability issue or broader sustainable development themes. For example, we engage with The Recycling Partnership to improve packaging recycling in the U.S. and we support the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, a multi-stakeholder partnership that shares expertise and financial resources to develop a global system for responsibly sourced aluminum.

Life Cycle

Understanding the life cycle of our products.

Recycling

Metals are completely and infinitely recyclable.

Contact Ball

For more information

T: +1 303 460 4429
E: sustainability@ball.com