A greenfield investment in Serbia may have seemed unreasonable at the time when Ball Packaging Europe launched its operations here, but each year it beats expectations.
Today the company continues to invest in the country, and with the opening of the Global Business Service Centre, it is building a headquarters for Europe and the AMEA region that will engage many people from Belgrade and Serbia.
The Ball Serbia plant is one of the largest greenfield investments in Serbia and one which is constantly growing and expanding its operations in the country.
As plant manager Branislav Savić explains, this success is the result of the right combination of the “talent pool” and the right employer, with strong innovative capacities, who happened to understand the broader market and its potential. In 2016 Ball Serbia sold around 1.5 billion units, a record number since the launch of its operations in the Serbian capital.
Since June last year, two new innovative Ball Packaging products have been produced in Belgrade: a can with a straw and a BRE lid, enabling consumers to temporarily reclose the can and continue using it later, which is considered a serious innovation in the packaging industry. This move allowed the company to employ new workers and engineers.
When talk turns to Ball Packaging, this is a story of huge numbers, world markets, and even planetary activities. Where does Ball Packaging Serbia fit into all of that?
– Technology today makes it easy to overcome seemingly impossible differences. The key to success is that you provide it to people through a proper and sophisticated approach. Even when there is no experience at all, with smart training, inspiring and connecting – you will achieve the desired goal and gain even more: dedicated, thorough, paced and innovative employees!
Greenfield investment in Serbia may have seemed unreasonable to some initially, but the results achieved by our people quickly after the Belgrade plant became operational, and which have grown constantly year-on-year, indicate that we did the right thing. Ball last year became the world leader in the production of aluminium packaging, and the Belgrade plant has been very successful for over a decade, becoming one of the leading plants. As of last year, along with our special products, we have also been producing for and export to markets around the world.
Our advantage is found in our people, their dedication and the passion they show, as well as the constant engagement and professionalism with which they approach every task. When this “talent pool” is combined with the right employer, one can really get engaged in these kinds of planetary activities you’ve mentioned.
In addition, Ball continues to invest in Serbia, and, with the opening of the Global Business Service Centre, we are building a headquarters for Europe and AMEA region (Africa, Middle East, Asia) that will engage many people from Belgrade and Serbia in various processes, such as finance, IT, etc.
Our advantage is found in our people, their dedication and the passion they show, as well as the constant engagement and professionalism with which they approach every task
Year-on-year you invest more in innovation, development and the expansion of capacity. What are the trends today like on the European and regional markets for the production and use of cans?
– Innovation is very important, and we are currently focusing on everyday improvements in technology and the way of thinking that leads to waste elimination. Although strong in the region, the factory in Serbia, with its special products, and the GBS centre are important to the corporation.
As the most sustainable, convenient and innovative beverage packaging, the drinks can have a constant positive trend on the European market, with an annual growth rate of two to three per cent. Twelve years ago, most markets in our region were young and emerging in terms of the per capita consumption of cans.
Ball Belgrade has been creating and strongly supporting the development of beverage cans on these markets, with a proactive and innovative approach throughout the years. We export cans to various different markets, aiming to provide an excellent level of service and support to our clients, both major international companies and entrepreneurial start-ups.
Being close to the customers is our absolute priority, and together we will, without any doubt, continue to further grow the drinks market in the region and across the world.
Adhering to the highest international standards, Ball Packaging places special emphasis on CSR activities, both in its immediate surroundings, as well as in improving the recycling industry. How much support do you have from the state in these activities?
– Ball Packaging Europe from the very beginning of the operations in Serbia had an open dialogue with the government on different topics, including packaging waste management where we had an opportunity to share knowledge and experience from different countries where we have operations.
This dialogue is facilitated through different organisations, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee of AmCham, NALED, SEPEN Association, Sekopak etc. The state created in 2009 the legal base for the packaging waste management with introducing national targets for recycling which helped to enforce the recycling, determined the roles in this sector and at the end resulted that packaging waste is one of the best-organised sectors as a part of the EU Chapter 27 negotiation process.
At the moment we are aware that commercial packaging waste sector is much better organised compared to the household packaging, and we are trying to provide solutions and recommendation together with all partners to continue this improvement together with the government.
As a company, we will continue to be open to provide the best experience related to the sustainability and what our company is trying to achieve in introducing new technologies, innovations with an aim to minimize the environmental footprint of the can.
In Serbia from 2005, from the very beginning of the Ball’s production, we started Recan Foundation with an aim to help recycling activities as well to educate the public on the recyclability of the aluminium can. Now our activities in Serbia and Montenegro are part of the European program Every Can Counts which is implemented in 12 countries across Europe.
We would also like to point out that with the support of newly established Ministry of Environmental protection, big steps forward can be made towards improvements in environmental protection. Our efforts are recognized and awarded several times, but recent award received from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce as a CSR Company is helping us to be more ambitious in setting new goals.