As a manufacturer of metal food and beverage cans, Crown Holdings is a world leader in recycling and sustainability. The Pennsylvania-based company has created a new sustainability plan called Twentyby30. This ambitious plan elevates their strong commitment to global sustainability by establishing 20 measurable goals to be achieved no later than the end of 2030. Overall, this includes making significant operational improvements in energy, waste, and water use, elevating their focus on material use efficiency, better recycling, and ethical and responsible sourcing, as well as food contact and safety improvements. It’s a bold plan notable for its breadth and strength, with strong, clear points related to climate action and emissions, resource efficiency and compliance, and optimum circularity – underscored by a commitment to inclusively work together and never compromise. It could almost be called a perfect blueprint for responsible 21st-century business. This is taking sustainability to the next level.
“Our spirit of innovation and commitment to operating efficiently and responsibly has guided our business since we were founded, and we are proud of the sustainability progress we have made to date,” said President and CEO Timothy J. Donahue. “Yet, we must continue to raise the bar for our performance. It is our duty as a global manufacturer to serve as a steward to our environment, our communities, our customers, and our own workforce. Twentyby30 represents the next chapter of our sustainability journey.”
Crown Holdings, formerly known as Crown Cork & Seal Company, has been manufacturing metal cans, metal aerosol containers, metal specialty packing, and metal closures since it was founded in 1892. At the dawn of the renewable movement, the company realized it was uniquely positioned to champion a sustainable process because metal is the most sustainable packaging material. Made up of aluminum and steel, its raw materials are abundant across the globe. This makes the production process naturally more green than other materials. No other packaging process has a more firmly established recycling infrastructure. Metal helps power the circular economy because it can be recycled indefinitely. It is a natural barrier to light and oxygen and thus can extend the shelf life of products, making safer and healthier foods more accessible to all people – while continually creating jobs that help fuel the economy.
Crown was one of the first to realize that operating unsustainably is detrimental to long-term success and hurts profitability. Therefore, they now use an environmental management system to manage costs and increase efficiency. In the past 10 years, the carbon footprint associated with making aluminum beverage cans has decreased by 31 percent. At Crown, where water is a key part of the beverage-can manufacturing process, protecting this invaluable resource is a no-brainer. Much of the company’s focus has been on water use. In the coming years, the company pledges to increase water use efficiency, identify alternative water sources, discharge water responsibly, and transparently report annual progress. Overall, Crown plans to reduce water usage in our global operations by 20 percent by 2025, decreasing their worldwide water usage by over 500 million gallons annually. The results often positively affect the wildlife in the area as well – their Olympia, Washington, plant fabricated and installed pre-filters into its stormwater catch basins to prevent copper runoff from affecting oysters in the area.
Crown is going above and beyond simple sustainability by working within their communities, offering scholarships totaling more than $5.1 million and intern programs and entrepreneurial classes focused on topics such as gender inequality and violence. Programs such as “Development and Equity of Women” work to connect women in local communities with health and wellness education. In Teresina, Brazil, the beverage plant started a judo program for local youth, while in Spilamberto, Italy, the plant took extra steps to reduce external noise levels to the town around them by installing air filters and soundproofed doors and windows.
Crown also assists after natural disasters. In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Mexico City in 2017, Crown’s Toluca, Mexico, plant partnered with Heineken and Coca-Cola to donate 2.3 million cans of water to victims. Employees also helped provide food and construct temporary houses for victims. The company also presents awards to plants who achieve “greener, leaner” excellence in sustainability, including social sustainability.
Between its new initiatives and a renewed focus on inclusivity and education, Crown is leading the way in responsible sustainable business. They were recently ranked the number one low-risk metal and glass organization in the world by Sustainalytics, underscoring a strong financial future. Crown is a brilliant example of how doing good makes perfect economic sense.
About Elizabeth Elkins
Elizabeth Elkins is a writer/songwriter based in Nashville. She is the author of The Hidden History of Music Row and the forthcoming Your Cheatin’ Heart: Timothy Demonbreun and the Politics of Love and Power in Nascent Nashville. She has also co-written several Billboard chart songs and is part of the acclaimed duo Granville Automatic.