Monday, January 28, 2008

Pop Wars: Cans vs. Bottles

What is better for the environment, soft drinks in bottles or cans? Salon has the facts in this article (excerpt below):
The amount of petroleum used in making the 50-gram (g) and 2-liter bottle is around 325 g, and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions from its manufacture are around 825 g. An aluminum can made from virgin materials results in the emissions of 280 g of carbon dioxide. Does this mean that the can is better? Well, keep in mind that the bottle holds more beverage, so we need to take that into account. You would need to buy 5.6 cans, almost a full six-pack, to equal the volume of the bottle. The 5.6 cans would be responsible for 1,568 g of carbon dioxide emissions. So it looks like the 2-liter bottle results in about half of the greenhouse gas emissions of the equivalent amount of cans. Is this the end of the story? What about transportation emissions?
Let's assume that both beverage containers are filled in the same facility and shipped to the store with the same truck. The bottle weighs 2.05 kg when full (2 liters plus 50 g) and the 5.6 cans weigh 2.084 kg (2 liters plus 84 g). This means that the cans require slightly more fuel to transport than the bottles. That's two strikes against cans. How about a third strike? Soda bottles often find a second life in my favorite winter garments, as some clothing brands manufacture fleece in part from recycled plastic, which is melted into pellets and extruded into fine fibers. Try doing that with aluminum.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you consider that it actually cost more money is a total waste of time to recycle glass???

Aluminum is the only thing that pays to recycle. That's why you see people picking up cans from along side of the road.

When we see them picking up paper and glass then we'll know they are worth recycling.