One of the hottest trends in cold drinks these days is aluminum bottles. It all started with Sigg and Kleen Kanteen bottles, but now it’s catching on with big-time drink makers like Coca-Cola. As a substitute for plastic, the ‘alubottle’ is a huge step up. Portable aluminum bottles have been a great way for people to ditch the disposable plastic bottles, but now the question is, are alubottles more environmentally friendly than glass?
Actually, a case could be made for both materials. As everyone knows, aluminum is lighter than glass, which reduces its carbon footprint by lesser fuel needed to ship it, but aluminum actually takes more energy to extract and manufacture. However, aluminum wins when it comes to recycling. As we learned from Pepsi’s “Have We Met Before?” campaign, most aluminum is made from large amounts of recycled content (around 40-50% in most aluminum cans), whereas only around 25% of glass bottles are recycled. And with the adoption of aluminum bottles from beer makers like Heineken, aluminum recycling programs would only increase in their scope. In fact, even wine makers are looking at the metal containers as a bottling option.
So are alubottles really a more environmentally friendly choice? In some cases, yes. For instance, if you’re drinking something that’s travelled a long way to get to you, then an aluminum bottle means it will have a smaller carbon footprint. But in other cases, like if you’re drinking a local beer bottled in glass and your area has great recycling facilities, then you’re not missing out on much.
One thing is for sure: grocery stores and local watering holes are bound to start carrying more and more alubottles as the trend becomes more prominent. But if you’re looking to drink from the most environmentally friendly container, and a regular drinking glass isn’t available, now you know which is the best choice.