Can you can-can?

November 17, 2008 at 3:10 pm 1 comment

do beverages taste better in glass, cans, or plastic?

The debate: do beverages taste better in glass, cans, or plastic?

Last night I had the opportunity to have a pleasant evening out with my husband’s coworkers.  Someone ordered a soda in a glass bottle, and everyone was quite surprised that the particular brand he was drinking was available in a glass bottle.  Apparently, it is a recent development.

This raised the debate: which type of beverage container is best?  It is important to note at this point in the evening, that the people my husband works with know vaguely that I work for the county, but they have no idea about the full on environmentalist, I occasionally blog as a raccoon, can rattle off really odd statistics about energy savings and economic impacts of recycling, will bring an aluminum can home to recycle it before I will throw it in the garbage version of myself.  As soon as someone asked the question, the hubby glanced at me, as if to say, “don’t.  just don’t.”  So I kept my mouth shut – for a little bit.

The opinions all around the table were strongly held.  Everyone agreed that glass was the best of all three options taste wise, but that it is more expensive and difficult to get.  Plastic bottles are easier to drink out of than aluminum, especially on the go and the soda doesn’t taste like aluminum.  Aluminum tastes better because the drink gets colder and doesn’t taste like plastic.  I swore two people in the corner were about ready to pick dueling weapons over plastic and aluminum when I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore.  Consider it environmental tourettes of some sort.

Plastic and aluminum are very much the same.  This is because aluminum cans are a four layered product.  The aluminum can has an interior plastic liner. On the outside of the aluminum can, there is an oil based painted image, and then another layer of plastic.  From what I can tell, both plastic bottles as well as the plastic liner in aluminum cans are made of PETE, or #1.  If you are looking to reduce your plastic consumption, then both are a poor choice.  However, glass is heavier to ship so there are ecological effects associated with glass as well.

Some humble suggestions,

Reduce: For beverages, consider buying them in concentrated form or in bulk.  Feeling very DIY?  Consider making your own!

Reuse:  If there is a bottle return option in your area, use it!  Do be careful about reusing plastic bottles yourself, though.

Recycle: All beverage containers are recyclable in your curbside recycling bin in Wisconsin.  A few recycling factoids:

  • Aluminum: Recycling 1 aluminum can saves 95% of the energy it would take to make the can from scratch.  That is enough energy to light up a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours!
  • Plastic: We use 3,250,000 water bottles in America every hour! When you count all plastic bottles, we use 1.5 million barrels of oil a year to make those bottles.  Recycling plastic saves 70% of the energy required to make the materials from scratch.
  • Glass: The average American uses 140 glass bottles and jars a year.  If everyone in Waukesha County recycled those bottles, we would save enough energy to light up a 100 watt light bulb for 201,600,000 hours.

recycle more,

recycle raccoon


Entry filed under: Facts & Figures, Little Action, Natural Resources, Packaging, Plastic, Recycling, Reduce & Reuse. Tags: , , , , , , , .

This Saturday Thanksgiving: Like Norman Rockwell Imagined with Less Trash

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Meribeth Sullivan  |  November 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Actually, the plastic can liner is supposed to be more like #7 with BPA, a health concern. The leaching isn’t supposed to be as bad as from other containers (like steel cans) which may be due to the contents of the can, type of acid, etc. I haven’t seen the studies that prove there is any less leaching.

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