Winning the cup competition

Hot on the heels of the recent positivity to do with metal packaging, Ball Corporation has launched a pilot of infinitely recyclable aluminium cups in the US.

Beginning in September 2019, Ball has stated that it will roll out a number of pilots with major venues and concessionaires across the US to replace their plastic cups with aluminium cups. Ball’s research shows that 67% of US consumers say they will visit a venue more often if they use aluminium cups instead of plastic cups and that 78% of consumers expect beverage brands to use environmentally friendly containers in the next five years.

The pilot will produce a limited supply of aluminium cups through 2020 for use in such locations, which include entertainment venues and major concessionaires. Commenting on the decision to enter the aluminium cups market, John A. Hayes, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ball, said: “As our customers and consumers increasingly seek sustainable beverage packaging options, the launch of the aluminium cup is a significant moment for our company.”

First off, the industry should certainly applaud Ball for this venture, and the industry vibes I’m hearing is that it’s been well received. The ability for the cups to customised with logos and graphics has to be a huge positive when delving into the festival and event calendar. How the company navigates the undoubted cost implications compared to plastic cups will be an issue of course, but those sustainably minded will look to pay a premium for a product I’m sure.

Aside from cost, safety is another hurdle for events where these cups will be looking to impact on plastic’s market share.  With many outdoor events, including sporting events and festivals favouring plastic containers due to them being safer for spectators, it’s another hurdle for the aluminium cup to navigate if wanting to penetrate into this sphere. It’s not a deal breaker of course, but something to consider.

Although currently focusing on the 20oz market, I’m interested to see how this venture develops, not least with other cup sizes. Disposable plastic cups for events is an issue, and one I’m glad the company is tackling.

In the meantime, Ball expects to ramp up production in its Colorado, US innovation facility by the end of 2020, and it looks forward to the opportunity to expand adoption of the cups to restaurants, bars, convenience stores, breweries and retail locations.

I look forward to playing beer pong with some of you within the industry, using aluminium cups, very soon…

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