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Ball’s drinking cup showcases potential for recycled and low-carbon aluminium

Time of issue::2024-03-26 15:46

Ball Packaging launched a ‘low-carbon’ aluminium drinking cup in collaboration with Novelis and Alcoa at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

The cup is made from 90% recycled aluminium from Novelis and 10% low-carbon primary aluminium from Alcoa.

A spokesperson for Ball told The Canmaker: “This refillable, recyclable, lower-carbon aluminum cup was a special run for Davos. And it is proof of what is possible when companies that are committed to reducing carbon emissions work together.

“It is Ball’s intention to use this technology or other similar low/no-carbon technology when it’s available for all of our virgin metal.”

Novelis signed a long-term agreement with Ball to supply aluminium coil, including PCR aluminium, in November 2023.

Alcoa’s aluminium was produced by using its Elysis process, a technology that “eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions and instead emits oxygen” during the aluminium smelting process. The technology was made possible in a partnership between Rio Tinto and the Government of Quebec.

Novelis combined Alcoa’s low-carbon aluminum with its recycled content to create the can sheet.

As a member of the First Movers Coalition (FMC), a business initiative supporting climate technologies to drive the demand for low carbon products, Ball has committed to a target of procuring at least 10% of aluminium that is produced by emitting less than three tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of primary aluminium by 2030. Alcoa and Novelis are also FMC members.

“Decarbonising the industry – and scaling solutions like the FMC Cup – requires both increasing recycling rates and the amount of low-carbon primary aluminum. Today, there is not enough low-carbon primary aluminum available to meet the industry’s needs – and new sources of this type of primary are needed,” the spokesperson said.

“Producing the net-zero cup was a team effort, echoing the FMC’s goal of increasing supply chain collaboration to decarbonise the aluminum sector.”

Although Ball does not have any “further specific plans” with Alcoa, the company said it was “excited to continue progress on this path” following the “successful debut of the FMC cup”.

The spokesperson added: “We hope that the cup shows that decarbonising the aluminum sector at pace and scale is possible. Effective collaboration is necessary to implement innovative, disruptive solutions that can help drive climate action.” 

A spokesperson for Alcoa said it was allocated an “R&D quantity metal from our Elysis technology partnership, and we made that available for the Ball cup”.

Although Alcoa no longer has a rolling mill business, it still supplies slab for use in producing can sheet. “The packaging market, of course, is still an important end market,” said the spokesperson, who would not speculate on commercial discussions regarding its Sustana line of products, such as low-carbon aluminium and recycled alumina.

With the recent acquisition of Australian holding company Alumina Ltd for US$2.2 billion agreed by all parties, Alcoa is now one of the largest bauxite and alumina producers in the world.

Ramon Arratia, chief sustainability officer at Ball Packaging, welcomed the announcement, commenting on social media: “A clear contender to achieve FMC aluminium (3 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of primary) at scale,” adding: “Delivering sustainability at scale is what few players can achieve.”


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