Ball gets rolling on pack sustainability

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Recycling

Global packager Ball has outlined a number of initiatives designed
to slash the environmental impacts and production costs of its
operations as part of its first annual sustainability report.

The group, which is a major supplier of plastic and metal beverage packs, says it will target an overall reduction in its environmental footprint, while at the same time devising innovations in the field of sustainable packaging. Along with its own green output, the company's chairman said the scheme also highlights the need for greater industry cooperation across its business, from beverage and food manufacturers to employees and stakeholders to ensure cost efficiency. "Our prosperity is clearly linked to the prosperity and success of others,"​ said R David Hoover. Packaging innovation ​ One of the key focuses for the group, as identified in the report, will be finding a balance between customer demand and reduced environmental impact. "Our primary focus is to provide light-weight, recyclable packaging using recycled material when feasible,"​ the company stated. "We are working with the metal industries to complete a life cycle inventory of metal cans to fully understand the impacts in each stage of the life cycle."​ The manufacturer added that this information will then be used to help develop carbon footprint improvements in its packaging. Ball claims that it has already made significant steps in cutting the weight of it packages in relation to this focus with aluminium cans now 40 per cent lighter than back in 1969. Similarly, steel beverage cans weigh 50 per cent less then they did in 1970, while Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) half litre water bottles are 35 per cent lighter since 2005, according to the company. Ball says that light weighting is a major concern for manufacturers' carbon food prints, enabling a reduction in both the packaging material and energy requirements during transportation. Recycling ​ Reviewing the company's international approach to recycling was another focus for the report, according to the group. "Using recycled material to manufacture cans saves up to 95 percent of the energy required to make aluminium cans from virgin materials and up to 74 per cent of the energy required to make steel cans from virgin materials,"​ the company said. "Recycling a ton of PET bottles saves the equivalent of approximately 400 gallons of gasoline." Environmental production ​ Aside from the packaging output itself, reducing energy and cutting greenhouse gas emission from the production process forms another core area of the group's environmental commitments, according top the report. "Ball recognises that climate change can have a substantial impact on the environment, our business and our long-term success as an enterprise,"​ the group stated. "Our corporate goal is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions intensity 16 per cent by 2012 (based on a 2002 baseline) primarily through energy efficiency improvements, including compressed air improvements, energy efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls." ​ Ball claims that it has already installed environmental management systems to this end. Staff welfare ​ Employee wellbeing is also highlighted in the report as an area that can offer significant operational improvements for the company, both socially and on the development of initiatives to further reduce accident rates at its plants to zero. "Most of our facilities have implemented behaviour-based programs and/or safety awareness training,"​ the company stated. "These programs help employees eliminate work habits that increase the potential for accidents by promoting a culture of prevention and of watching out for the safety of others." ​ The company says it will announce it progress in meeting these commitments in 2010.

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