We take a look at the most eco-friendly options for beverage containers

By now, most people are well aware of how harmful plastic bottles are for the environment. Plastic is made by burning fossil fuels and it never fully breaks down, but rather just turns into microplastic (small pieces that pollute the oceans, rivers and soil). Even if you recycle plastic, it can only be recycled a few times before it becomes too weak and is then disposed of. So that leaves eco-conscious consumers with a dilemma. When buying beverages in containers, should we opt for glass or aluminum?


The pros and cons of aluminum

aluminum canPhoto by Chris Abney on UnsplashAluminum is a great eco-friendly option because it can be recycled indefinitely without the quality deteriorating (unlike plastic). And when companies recycle aluminum to make new products, they save 90 percent of the energy that it normally takes to produce items made of virgin aluminum. Also, about 75 percent of all aluminum ever created is still in use today thanks to recycling. This is very different from plastic since only about 9 percent of all plastics ever created have been recycled. Another pro of choosing to use aluminum is that it uses less gas to transport than glass since aluminum is a lighter-weight material.

The main con of choosing aluminum is that virgin aluminum uses a lot of electricity and it burns fossil fuels. It takes about 1,740 gallons of gasoline to create one ton of aluminum. However, when companies choose to package their products in recycled aluminum, the process only uses 90 gallons of gasoline. Aluminum isn’t perfect, but the more we recycle it and the more companies start choosing to create products made from recycled aluminum, the greener our planet will be.


The pros and cons of glass

glass bottlePhoto by Sandra Seitamaa on UnsplashGlass is similar to aluminum in that it can be recycled endlessly without losing the quality of the material. It’s also easy to clean and reuse rather than putting it straight in recycling. Even though glass is more costly for the consumer to purchase (since it’s heavy and costly for manufacturers), you can often get paid for recycling it in many countries. When people recycle glass, it saves a lot of energy. The two main cons of choosing glass are that it is breaks easily and is heavy, which means that it takes a lot of gasoline to transport it.


A reusable alternative for beer lovers

growlerPhoto by Lindsay Martin on UnsplashGlass and aluminum are both great alternatives to the plastic bottle. However, there are a few reusable alternatives for certain kinds of beverages. People who love beer may be able to visit their local brewery and get their own growler (a very large glass bottle) refilled with beer after they’ve bought it. You just need to bring your clean growler back and ask for a refill. This obviously only works with breweries that have beer on tap and offer growlers and growler refills. This is an excellent option because it means only one or two growlers need to be purchased by you and you can reuse them endlessly instead of having to recycle them.


A wonderful reusable alternative for soda lovers

soda with limePhoto by Morton Xiong on UnsplashFor people who love soda, another good alternative is a soda maker. Soda makers are machines that add CO2 to your water thereby turning it into a carbonated beverage. You can then buy syrups to add to your carbonated water and turn them into flavoured soda. Another way to add flavour is to add fruit or fruit juices to your water to create a healthier beverage. Most companies that create and sell soda makers also sell sustainably packaged syrups or juice packs to add to your soda. Plus, some of them even have their own recycling programs.


Sources: Aluminum Can Recycling Pros & ConsAluminum Recycling; Glass RecyclingGlass Packaging Pros and Cons