Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in our own operations and across our value chain, minimizes our packaging’s carbon footprint and positions aluminum as a low-carbon, circular packaging of choice. Subsequently, this provides Ball with a competitive advantage by allowing us to seize new opportunities, while reducing financial and business risks associated with the transition to a low carbon economy.
By setting ambitious targets, we are striving not only to help with global efforts on climate change, but to improve Ball’s performance and to help our customers reach their own emissions reduction targets through the advancement of low carbon aluminum packaging. Providing support for our customers in this way provides us with a commercial advantage and is an example of how sustainability supports our business strategy.
Setting and achieving our carbon targets begins with understanding our footprint and the life cycle of our products.
Our Carbon Footprint
Ball’s carbon footprint is composed of the GHG emissions emitted from our direct operations (Scope 1 and 2) and from our value chain (Scope 3). In 2021, Ball’s total carbon footprint (Scope 1, 2, & 3) was 12,788,522 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e).
Our Scope 1 emissions are primarily driven by our use of natural gas and our Scope 2 emissions by the electricity we purchase, both being critical inputs in our manufacturing operations. While we experienced a 6% increase year over year in our Scope 1 emissions due to the growth of our businesses, we drove a 32% reduction in our Scope 2 emissions during 2021 due to our strong focus on renewable energy.
Our Scope 3 emissions represent emissions outside of our direct operations and that occur in our value chains. In line with the “Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard”, we evaluate GHG emissions from 15 categories covering upstream emissions, like those from our aluminum and equipment suppliers, and downstream emissions, such as those from transporting goods to our customers.
Our 2021 Scope 3 emissions include the following categories: purchased goods and services (83% of total, including end-of-life treatment of products), capital goods (7%), fuel and energy related activities (3.1%), upstream transportation (3.2%), waste, business travel, employee commuting, downstream transportation, processing of sold products (all less than 1%), and investments (2.2%). Seventy percent of our Scope 3 emissions originate from the metals we convert in our plants.
We experienced a 19% year over year increase in our Scope 3 emissions. This was driven by the production of almost 10 billion more cans compared to the previous year. Additionally, we attribute the increase to improvements in our suppliers’ GHG accounting, a higher level of accuracy around actual recycled content in the can sheet we purchase, and increased deployment of new capital goods for new beverage can plants and manufacturing lines.
Since 2007, we have disclosed our GHG emissions annually through CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). Today, we submit information to three of CDP’s programs: climate change, supply chain and water. A high level of transparency of our sustainability performance, including corporate and product carbon footprints is important to ensure our customers understand our commitments, our performance, and how we contribute to their own climate targets.
Our management and reporting systems, including internal audits, ensure the accuracy and reliability of our environmental information. We engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to provide limited assurance in relation to our total data for GHG emissions (Scope 1, 2 and select sub-categories of Scope 3), energy consumption, and water consumption for the year ended December 31, 2021. The Report of Independent Accountants and Management Assertion is available to download.
Find more information on our carbon footprint and other sustainability metrics at our Sustainability Data Center.
Net Zero Prior to 2050
In 2020, Ball announced our ambition to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions across our value chain before 2050. We are in the process of developing a detailed roadmap to Net Zero that will help us optimize carbon reduction and capital allocation. The roadmap will detail timelines for when we expect new technologies, innovations and legislation to come to fruition at scale, allowing us to achieve deep decarbonization and neutralization of remaining residual emissions. Critical to meeting our Net Zero target is focusing on achieving our intermediate 2030 science-based target covering our own operations and our value chain.
Ball's 1.5 Degree Science-Based Target
In 2019 we set a target of achieving a 55% absolute reduction in GHG emissions from our own operations by 2030, despite expectations that the business will experience unprecedented growth during this period. The target aligns with the latest climate science reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global body of climate experts which has announced that global warming should be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels if its worst impacts are to be avoided.
Our 1.5°C target was approved in early 2020 by the Science Based Target Initiative, an international governing body that independently assesses and approves companies’ GHG goals. We are the first aluminum can manufacturer to adopt a science-based target. We will aim to meet the 55% target in two main ways: by switching to renewable energy and by improving energy efficiency in our manufacturing processes.
VALUE CHAIN TARGET
As part of our science-based target, we will aim to cut GHG emissions 16% across our value chain by 2030.
Around 93% of the GHG emissions associated with our products come from within our value chain rather than our own operations. We collaborate with our value chain partners to make a difference in this area, both ‘upstream’ in the products and services we purchase from suppliers, and ‘downstream’ in the way our products are collected, sorted and recycled.
We are able, for instance, to work with various stakeholders to cut GHG emissions by lightweighting our products and reducing the amount of material needed, increasing recycling rates and recycled content (as we explain in our Real Circularity webpage), and utilizing low-carbon primary aluminum.
Emission Reductions in our Operations
In order to meet our science-based target in the face of unprecedented growth, Ball has set two critical goals that must be achieved in order to reduce our absolute emissions by 55% by 2030:
- Achieve 100% renewable electricity globally by 2030, with an interim target of 75% by 2025
- Achieve 30% energy efficiency improvement (electricity and natural gas) in can manufacturing (2020-2030)
Click the banner below to learn more about our renewable energy efficiency initiatives and how we are executing on them.
Brattymyrliden wind project in Sweden; one of four projects associated with VPPAs Ball has signed to date
Emission Reductions in our Value Chain
Detailed insights in our Scope 3 emissions allow us to identify relevant risks and opportunities associated with emissions from our value chain, develop reduction plans and engage value chain partners in meaningful mitigation actions.
In 2021, we articulated our vision to achieve a global recycling rate of 90% for beverage cans, bottles and cups, and an average 85% recycled content in those products (see page 17). These two levers, combined with additional GHG emission reduction successes by the primary aluminum industry, will contribute to our 16% reduction target in our absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions.
Changes to recycling infrastructure and legislation take time, and we do not expect recycling rates and recycled content for our products to increase in a linear way during this decade. Instead, legislation in areas such as deposit return schemes will be implemented in various markets from 2024 on and additional remelting capacity may come online soon thereafter.
In 2021, we participated in the Aluminium for Climate initiative, part of the Mission Possible Partnership, which is co-led by the World Economic Forum. This initiative is developing Net Zero pathways for the sector in direct collaboration with the industry. In addition to transitioning to fossil free energy sources, an additional way of helping decarbonize direct emissions resulting from primary aluminum production is through the use of inert anode technology for aluminum smelting. Currently, this technology is not commercially available. In 2021, we set up a collaboration with a primary aluminum producer to use several tons of aluminum made with inert anode technology from an industrial pilot to produce aerosol cans with a reduced carbon footprint.
Carbon Footprints of our Products
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a valuable tool to track the carbon footprint of our products. In 2020, we published a peer-reviewed comparative LCA for aluminum beverage cans, PET and glass bottles as well as beverage cartons in Brazil, Europe and the United States. Among other findings, the study revealed that recycling is a key factor when it comes to the sustainability profile of all substrates.
To the right is a representative example for the LCA analysis of the U.S. Here, the LCA found that with today's actual recycling rates and recycled content, aluminum cans have a lower carbon footprint compared with glass bottles and PET bottles for carbonated beverages. This LCA also covered various sensitivity analysis and scenarios. For example, it shows that beverage cans have the highest carbon footprint variability when recycling rates, recycled content, and container weights are changed. Therefore, the cans' environmental impacts will benefit more than other substrates from increasing recycling rates, higher recycled content and lower container weights.
To move from linear to circular thinking, this study also applied the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) methodology developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Related scores allow interested parties to understand to what extent different packaging options are a good fit for the circular economy. MCI scores range from 0.1, a linear product, to 1, a perfectly circular product. In all three regions, aluminum cans achieve the best material circularity scores of any single-use packaging option. Despite the fact that beverage cartons are challenging to recycle, the MCI methodology considers paperboard from sustainable sources as fully circular. The study results underline that by increasing efficiencies in our own operations and within our supply chain, switching our electricity use to renewable energy, and-- most importantly-- working with our customers, suppliers and other partners to increase recycling rates, the environmental profile of aluminum cans can be further enhanced, making cans a low carbon and circular package of choice.
The full LCA report, regional summaries and additional information about the LCA can be found here.