Today, Anthea McIntrye, MEP for the West Midlands, paid a visit to Ball Packaging Europe’s plant in Rugby where she had a chance to see a prime example of the UK’s packaging manufacturing industry. She was accompanied by Rugby MP Mark Pawsey. During her stay, Miss McIntrye recognized the plant’s role as an economic factor for both town and region and appreciated Ball’s accomplishments regarding a more sustainable can production process.

Three per cent of the UK’s manufacturing workforce – about 85,000 people – is employed in the packaging sector. This industry significantly contributes to the national economy with total annual sales of £11 billion. As a world leader in product innovation and manufacturing technology, the productivity of Britain’s packaging industry is more than twice as high as all industries’ average performance. “I can see how important the packaging industry is for our country,” said Miss McIntrye. “I am impressed by the sector’s productivity and I am happy to support their cause.”

As one of Europe’s major beverage can producers, Ball Packaging Europe contributes to the success of the UK’s packaging industry. At its UK sites at Wrexham, Rugby, Deeside and Chester, the company employs nearly 600 people. In total the can maker produces an annual volume of 3.6 billion cans and 8.5 billion ends for 12 major UK customers.

“Ball Packaging Europe serves as a great example for Britain’s packaging industry: modern, efficient and sustainable,” Miss McIntyre said. “I especially appreciate Ball’s efforts to make beverage can manufacturing more sustainable.”

This effort is demonstrated by Ball’s light-weighting achievements. By reducing the weight of a beverage can, the company is able to save material costs and reduce the can’s carbon footprint at the same time. In the course of the last 20 years, the biggest can manufactured at Rugby, the 50cl can, lost more than a quarter of its weight (26.4 per cent). “Our sustainability measures are an important part of our strategy,” says Norman Lett, Ball’s Regulatory Affairs Manager UK & Ireland. “In September 2011 we achieved one of our major goals to send zero waste to landfill at all our UK sites. For the coming years we plan to invest more than £1.1 million in energy saving projects at our Rugby plant alone.”

In addition to visiting Ball’s Rugby site, Miss McIntyre and Mark Pawsey also took the opportunity to visit the soft drink company Britvic, Ball’s next-door neighbour and key customer. Both plants are connected via a tunnel link. In a seamless production process the manufactured cans go straight into Britvic’s filling and logistics process. Miss McIntyre acknowledged the efficiency of this linked process: "It is great to see what is possible when two companies work together as closely as Ball and Britvic do here.”

Since 1989 Ball has been producing beverage cans at Rugby and has invested nearly £10 million over the last five years. Today, 142 employees are involved in the process of manufacturing three different can sizes on two lines.