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Hydro’s rolled products business supplies aluminium can stock to Ball Packaging Europe in the U.K. The two companies work closely together to minimize waste and maximize recycling.

For Hydro and Ball Packaging Europe, minimizing waste starts with the material itself and manufacturing process. That means using the right amount of aluminium – and no more – in each can.

Quality stock

Ball Packaging Europe counts on Hydro to deliver quality stock for the demanding segment: “Ball Corp also makes satellites,” says Norman Lett, recycling manager for Ball Packaging Europe, “and the tolerances are much tighter on cans than satellites.

“Light-weighting is very important. There’s a clear environmental benefit in using less material and, of course, it saves us money too. Our plants are producing more than they’ve ever done. We’re getting more for less.”

When it comes to recycling, Hydro and Ball Packaging Europe cooperate between themselves and with industry groups.

“Norman and I talk every day,” explains Nigel Gibbon, Hydro’s general manager for Rolled Products in the U.K.

'Good relationship'

“We have a good relationship, based on a common approach. But most of our activity – in terms of the environment – is through joint industry bodies. It has to be. It can’t just be Hydro and Ball – together we stand, divided we fall.”

One such group is U.K.-based Alupro, which counts Hydro as a founder member. Ball Packaging Europe joined the group last year.

Gibbon, a former chairman of Alupro, says, “It’s an integrated, forward-thinking group that represents around 75 percent of the aluminium packaging chain. We hope that other companies will see Ball joining and want to join too.”

Alupro’s objectives are to work with government on legislative issues and to directly stimulate collection/recycling. Rick Hindley, the executive director, says: “We all have an interest in maximizing recycling rates. It’s not just about meeting targets – we want the aluminium back because it makes commercial and environmental sense to recycle.”

Trees for Africa

One of the ways in which Alupro is doing that is through its Trees for Africa project, which both Hydro and Ball have been involved with. As part of the project, a tree is planted in Africa for every tonne of aluminium cans and foil recycled in the U.K.

Since Alupro started tree planting incentive campaigns in 2003, the amount of aluminium drinks cans and foil recycled each year has grown by 47 percent. As an additional benefit, more than 100,000 trees have already been grown in the U.K. and in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Gibbon says: “We’re not just planting a tree, we’re helping to build a business for these communities. It fits with our corporate sustainability approach of creating a viable society.”

Sustainability is defined by the United Nations as ‘Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Lett says: “Ball is firmly committed to these principles. And it comes from the top of the organization.”

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