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As we continue to become more environmentally conscious, the question of which type of packaging is better for the planet – aluminum cans or plastic bottles – has become increasingly important. Both aluminum cans and plastic bottles are popular choices for packaging beverages such as soda, beer, and water. However, when it comes to sustainability and environmental impact, one option clearly comes out on top.


At first glance, it might seem that plastic bottles would be the more environmentally-friendly choice, since they are lightweight and easy to transport. However, when you consider the entire life cycle of both types of packaging, aluminum cans are actually the superior choice.


Recycling

Manufacturing

The first stage in the life cycle of packaging is manufacturing. Aluminum cans require less energy to manufacture than plastic bottles, and they are made from a highly recyclable material. In fact, aluminum is one of the most recyclable materials on the planet, with a recycling rate of over 70% in the United States alone. Plastic bottles, on the other hand, are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource that is more difficult to recycle. The manufacturing of plastic bottles also produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacturing of aluminum cans.

Transportation

Transportation is another important factor to consider. Since aluminum cans are lighter than plastic bottles, they require less fuel to transport. This means that aluminum cans have a lower carbon footprint than plastic bottles.

Recycling

Both aluminum cans and plastic bottles are recyclable, but aluminum cans are far more likely to be recycled than plastic bottles. In fact, aluminum cans have the highest recycling rate of any beverage container material in the world. This is partly because aluminum is a valuable material that can be easily and efficiently recycled. In contrast, plastic bottles are often contaminated with food or other substances, which makes them more difficult to recycle. Additionally, many plastic bottles are made from a type of plastic called PET, which is not as easy to recycle as the aluminum used in cans.

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