Largest drinks packaging factory in UK promises 200 jobs

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Left to right: Ball Beverage Packaging EMEA president Carey Causey and plant manager of the site Jason Bridger
Left to right: Ball Beverage Packaging EMEA president Carey Causey and plant manager of the site Jason Bridger

Related tags: Packaging & labelling

Ball Corporation has launched construction of what is set to be the largest drinks packaging factory in the UK, creating 200 jobs at the SEGRO Park, Kettering Gateway.

With accelerating demand for infinitely recyclable aluminium drinks cans growing fast in the UK and around the world, Ball said it was investing in the facility to meet customer needs.

Set for completion in January 2023, the can making site will occupy 56,000m2​, with space to expand production later. In its first year, the plant is expected to produce more than one billion fully recyclable cans.

The multinational can-maker is working with public services including Job Centre Plus to boost employment in the area. A pre-employment programme is planned to develop talent from all local communities for exciting roles at the new plant during 2022 and beyond.

A celebration to mark the construction of the plant was attended on 4 March by the local MP, local councillors, and community groups.

Recycled packaging

Growth in demand for aluminium cans comes as consumers seek alternatives to single-use plastic. 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%, according to Ball.

The company, 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. Other features include a rainwater harvesting system and innovative technology to mitigate machinery exhaust emissions. 

The innovative technologies would make the Kettering plant the most advanced facility of its type, demanding 20% less energy and 70% less water than traditional can-making processes, Ball claimed. 

Source of employment

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

“As environmental awareness increases, consumers are insisting on more sustainable drinks packaging,"​ Carey Causey, president, Ball Beverage Packaging Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEA), said.

"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.”

Production skills

Local MP Philip Hollobone said: “With its rich heritage, the production skills in Kettering are outstanding and it’s great to see a leading international company like Ball join the ranks of our existing manufacturers."

Councillor David Brackenbury, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for growth and regeneration, said Ball's presence would 'bring a significant amount of foreign direct investment as well as a facility that is focussed on being as sustainable as possible'.

"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,"​ he said. "I look forward to seeing the production lines rolling!”

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 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region to 26.

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