The future of cans

Image: Ball Corporation

Aluminium cans are essential to meet sustainability demands, states Carey Causey, president of Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)


Since the publication of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the sustainability of products has become increasingly paramount for both consumers and governments alike. A survey of consumers across eighteen countries found half (49 per cent) are now considering sustainability when buying food and drink.

To meet the sustainable development goals by 2023, many countries are introducing policies such as Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) which are currently active in over 45 territories around the world. DRS policies work by charging consumers a small deposit for drinks packaging, which can be recouped when the packaging is returned to a collection point to be recycled.

Due to the ease of recyclability, aluminium beverage cans have become a vital element of DRS policies. Aluminium cans boast infinite recyclability, making them an asset in conserving finite resources needed for raw aluminium production.

Recycling aluminium uses 95 per cent less energy than producing aluminium from raw materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions produced in the primary production process. Through utilising canned beverages in the shift to sustainability, countries can deliver effective DRS systems which engage the ever-increasing number of ethical consumers.

DRS policies are great example of circularity practices which reduce reliance on new resources. In our steadfast commitment to circularity, the business actively engages with global Governments, advocating for the implementation of effective DRS policies.

Ball Corporation believes in preserving the value of materials to keep them in use at their highest and best value for as long as possible. As such, Ball has committed to 85 per cent recycled content in its aluminium beverage cans, bottles, and cups across all markets the company operates in by 2030.

To achieve effective circularity, it is imperative that innovations continue to improve the sustainability of beverage cans. Since the 1970s, beverage can weights have decreased by more than 40 per cent.

Today, cans have the ability to be produced with a wall thickness of 0.097 millimetres – as thin as a human hair. By decreasing the weight of the cans themselves, there are environmental benefits throughout the chain. This includes reduced material consumption, reduced transportation emissions and saves significant amounts of energy.

Taking circularity seriously also means ensuring cans are made in the most sustainable way possible. Renewable electricity is not only critical to Ball’s overall  carbon  footprint;  it  is  an  important component in reducing the carbon footprint of all packaging. The use of 100 per cent renewable electricity in manufacturing reduces the carbon footprint of an aluminium beverage can by 10 to 18 per cent. As such, Ball is dedicated to achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity globally by 2030.

These changes and innovations mean circular systems are increasingly resource effective, benefitting consumers and governments alike. As we move toward 2030, and approach a new set of sustainable development goals, the beverage industry should be ready to reflect on its sustainability progress.

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