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Building works commence on largest drinks packaging factory in UK

4 March 2022

Woman in high-visibility jacket and man wearing a blue overall, standing in front of manufacturing equipment Ball Beverage Packaging EMEA president Carey Causey and plant manager of the site, Jason Bridger

Ball Corporation begins construction of its new facility at Kettering.

Due to be completed in January 2023, the new can-making factory at the SEGRO Park Kettering Gateway is being built in response to growing demand for recyclable aluminium drinks cans. Covering 56,000 sq metres, it will be the biggest ever built in the UK, with space to expand production in the future. The factory will manufacture more than one billion fully recyclable cans and create 200 local jobs.

Local and central government leaders including North Northamptonshire MP Philip Hollobone joined businesspeople and community groups for a ceremony today (Friday March 4) to mark the start of construction.

Mr Hollobone said: “I am delighted to see this project go ahead. With its rich heritage, the production skills in Kettering are outstanding and it is great to see a leading international company like Ball join the ranks of our existing manufacturers.”

North Northamptonshire Council, which granted planning permission for the site last year, says the decision by Ball Corporation to base its new site at Kettering will bring significant investment into the area.

Cllr David Brackenbury, executive member for growth and regeneration, said: “One of our key priorities is helping to create the conditions to boost the economy in North Northamptonshire and I am delighted to welcome Ball Corporation to our area.”

He praised the focus on sustainability in the new plant. Ball, which has had its climate change plan approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, is constructing the Kettering plant according to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ sustainability and environmental standards. Features include a rainwater harvesting system and innovative technology to mitigate machinery exhaust emissions, technologies that will make the Kettering plant the most advanced facility of its type, using 20% less energy and 70% less water than traditional can-making processes.

“This development also brings with it significant employment opportunities to the local area in the sustainable manufacturing sector, which is a welcome addition to the North Northants economy,” said Cllr Brackenbury. “I look forward to seeing the production lines rolling.”

The growth in demand for aluminium cans comes as consumers seek alternatives to single-use plastic, with a recent poll showing almost 80% of people are taking steps to reduce single-use plastic and two-thirds want to do more. Aluminium cans are currently the world’s most widely recycled beverage packaging, with a UK recycling rate of 82% and a European average of 76%.

The manufacturing industry has long been a major source of employment for Kettering and the surrounding area, with the Ball facility joining a contemporary local industrial community which includes Mercedes-AMG, Siemens and Weetabix.

Carey Causey, president, Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, said : “As environmental awareness increases, consumers are insisting on more sustainable drinks packaging. This new facility, in one of the UK’s best-known manufacturing locations, will help us to support our customers’ growth, creating fully recyclable cans which can play a role in a truly circular economy and support the local community.”

The Kettering facility will be Ball’s third can-making site in the UK, joining established plants in Milton Keynes and Wakefield and taking the new total in the EMEA region to 26.

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