Beverage Can Makers and Sustainability

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Ball and Crown Sustainability

To be perceived as sustainable by their customers, both Ball and Crown allocate a section on their respective websites for sustainability reporting, and showcase their commitment to sustainability at BrauBeviale, a well-attended trade fair for beverage production and marketing. Both companies publish a biennial sustainability report where they detail their goals, targets, and achievements. They regularly submit their sustainability plans and achievements to third parties for review and assessment, and they incentivize own plants to work towards sustainability goals through awards.

Ball's Sustainability-Related Initiatives

  • Ball uses one whole section on its website to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. In this section, Ball explains how it approaches sustainability, and reports on its targets and achievements.
  • Ball discloses that it has four priorities as far as sustainability is concerned. These four priorities center on product stewardship, operational excellence, talent management, and corporate giving and volunteerism.
  • Ball shares that the environmental and social issues that Ball and its stakeholders consider most important include packaging collection and recycling, energy use and efficiency, chemicals of concern, water management, chemical management, recycled content, waste management, health and safety, and human rights.
  • Ball reports that it aims to reduce the carbon footprint of its beverage cans by 25% by 2020. It also aims to achieve targets for recycling of metal packaging products in emerging and developed markets, and to fully roll out its Community Ambassadors program.
  • On the matter of operational excellence, Ball recently reduced its waste generation per unit by 6%, improved its energy efficiency by 5%, improved its water efficiency by 5%, and set a science-based target for greenhouse gas emission reduction.
  • Ball regularly attends BrauBeviale, a trade fair for producers and marketers of beverages, to demonstrate that cans are the most sustainable packaging choice for beverages.
  • Ball regularly submits its sustainability goals, performance, and management to third parties for external review and assessment. It discloses that it is a member of several sustainability-related indices, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, CDP, the FTSE4Good Index Series, the MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes, the Euronext Vigeo US 50 Index, and the Calvert Responsible Index Series.
  • Ball publishes a biennial sustainability report to detail its progress toward sustainability priorities and goals. In its latest sustainability report, Ball disclosed that, in 2017, it was able to donate over $550,000 to recycling projects worldwide, its employees in the United States were able to log over 400 volunteering hours, it was able to roll out its company-wide "Live the Can Life" campaign, and 39 of its 88 plants were able to achieve "zero waste to landfill status."
  • Ball recognizes notable sustainability achievements among its metal packaging manufacturing plants through the annual R. David Hoover Sustainability Award.

Crown's Sustainability-Related Initiatives

  • Crown allocates one section on its website for sustainability reporting. In this section, Crown explains the 360-degree sustainability of metal packaging, and presents its biennial sustainability reports.
  • In its latest sustainability report, Crown discloses that, during the period 2007-2016, it was able to reduce its aluminum usage by 4%, reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 10%, reduce its indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, reduce its volatile organic compound emissions by 17%, reduce its nitrogen oxide emissions by 18%, and reduce its 'waste to landfill' generation by 49%.
  • Crown discloses that the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) gave it a grade of A- in 2015 and 2016 and rated it best in metal packaging in 2017, and that Ecovadis gave it a Gold Rating in 2018.
  • Similar to Ball, Crown showcases its sustainability efforts at the BrauBeviale trade fair. At BrauBeviale 2019, Crown highlighted its commitment to sustainability, innovation, collaboration, and the circular economy.
  • Crown reported that, by the end of 2018, it was already able to achieve 94% of its targets for Scope 1 and Scope greenhouse gas emissions for 2020. Between 2015 and 2018, the company was able to reduce energy consumption in its metal packaging plants by 4.59%. Also, in late 2018, Crown was reported to be "more than halfway to its 2020 sustainability goals."
  • As part of its commitment to RE100, Crown plans to switch to 100% renewable energy sources by 2050. The company reports that, so far, 6.7% of its operations use renewable energy sources.
  • In June 2019, Crown announced that it has entered into an agreement with Longroad Energy, where the latter will supply wind power to its beverage can plants in the United States and Canada starting July 1, 2020. Beginning said date, 100% of the energy requirements of the beverage can plants in the region will be sourced from a wind farm in Knox County, Texas.
  • Crown recognizes exceptional sustainability achievements among its 241 facilities through the biennial Chairman's Sustainability Award. The award program has three categories, namely, the Environmental Sustainability Award, the Economic Sustainability Award, and the Social Sustainability Award.
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Beverage Can Maker Sustainability Trends

Three trends in sustainability for beverage can manufacturers are the increasing production of aluminum cans, the increasing trend towards lighter weight cans and can ends, and innovative can ends.

Aluminum Beverage Cans

  • There is an increasing trend towards aluminum beverage cans as a sustainable choice in material. This is due to the high recycling rates for the material, with 75% of all aluminum ever produced still in use today.
  • The demand for aluminum cans is increasing as more alcoholic beverages are being canned in aluminum cans instead of bottled. Aluminum cans, as opposed to steel, are driving the growth of the beverage can market worldwide.
  • Danone began offering some bottled water in aluminum cans, instead of plastic, as the plastic bottles were seen as contributing to ocean pollution.
  • PepsiCo also made the move to aluminum cans for its bottled water.
  • Ball Corp, the largest US aluminum can maker, recently invested in a new, state of the art can plan in the Southwest US based on the increased demand for specialty aluminum beverage cans.
  • Over the past five years, US aluminum can manufacturers have invested over $1 billion into US manufacturing facilities, demonstrating the high demand for these products.

Lightweight Beverage Cans

  • Can makers have moved towards lighter weight beverage cans over the years, moving from a can weighing 80 grams sixty years ago to can weighing less than 13 grams today. This trend still continues, especially for can ends.
  • New can ends use 10% less material than previous generations of can ends, making for a much lighter product which not only saves on material, but also saves on shipping. Decreased shipping weight means less energy consumed and CO2 released during transport.
  • Crown Holdings Asia Pacific released a lightweight beverage end, branded SuperEnd, as part of their sustainability initiatives. The company claims that since the introduction of the product, "more than 580 billion SuperEnd beverage ends have been produced by Crown and its licensees, saving over 150,000 metric tons of aluminum, over 2,550 metric tons of coatings and over 1,160,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases."

Innovative Can Ends

  • Some beverages can makers are turning to resealable ends, so that the can can be re-closed if the contents is not consumed.
  • By adding these resealable ends, companies can move from plastic packaging to the more sustainable aluminum, while still being able to allow for consumers to cap their beverage.
  • The resealable ends reduce food waste (as the contents can be resealed and consumed later) and the removable end by Crown removes the need for a separate cup, which then needs to be washed.
  • XO created a resealable can end called the XO System.
  • Ball created the BRE resealable can.
  • Crown created the 360 End, which is a removable end that turns the can into an open-mouth cup.

Research Strategy

In order to identify trends in sustainability for beverage can makers, we first reviewed multiple expert reports and articles identifying such trends. We then looked for beverage can manufacturers enacting these stated trends to ensure that they are, in fact, trends.
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