When you are choosing a container, almost anything is going to be better than plastic. Once you eliminate plastic you’re left with a choice between a glass container and an aluminum can. Both materials have their environmental advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at the life of an aluminum can versus the life of a glass bottle to see which is a more environmental choice of material.
Producing glass and aluminum cans
Both glass and aluminum start with mining for materials. Mining is harsh on the environment in many ways. To get the stones and materials needed to make glass we need to look no further than our own backyard, so to speak. Limestone, liquefied sand, and soda ash are readily available in North America, whereas the bauxite needed for the aluminum cans are sourced from other countries, like Guinea and Australia.
Mining is not good for the environment and can cause irreparable harm. The environmental impact of mining can lead to the destruction of wildlife and their natural habitat, decreasing biodiversity in the area. The methods used for mining can also have serious health effects on the public as well as the environment. Other harmful side effects of mining include erosion, and soil and groundwater contamination.
When it comes to production methods, both glass and aluminum are tied for negative environmental impacts.
Transportation of glass and aluminum
Glass is much heavier and breakable. Not only will the weight of transporting glass bottles use up more energy and gas, but you will need more packaging materials to protect the bottles during transportation. Cans are delightfully light and durable, so transporting aluminum cans is more eco-friendly than transporting glass.
Aluminum cans have a smaller carbon footprint than glass when it comes to transportation.
Both glass and aluminum are 100% recyclable, and the percentage of glass and aluminum being recycled are both very high. However, recycling cans is a much easier and eco-friendly process than melting down and recycling glass into new bottles. Aluminum cans can also be recycled indefinitely, which reduces the need for destructive mining for new raw materials.
And the winner is…
The next time you’re thirsty and shopping for a refreshment, think about the environmental impact before making a choice. Quench your thirst without quenching the environment and choose aluminum cans over glass bottles.
Sunrise Sanitation provides waste and recycling services to your home, business, and job-site in West Virginia and Maryland.