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[GreenYes] RE: aluminum cans vs. plastis bottles
Pat and friends,

Actually the aluminum container recycling rate exceeds the PET bottle recycling rate by more than 3 times when you factor in the average 20% yield loss associated with producing RPET in the form of clean flake from PET bales.  So, while the PET recycling rate of 22.5% is widely published, the net recycling rate is 17.5%.  This info can be found in NAPCOR's lastest recycling activity report.  I'm assuming that there is no comparable yield loss with recycling aluminum cans.  Last report I heard pegged aluminum can recycling at 55%.


B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418

>>> "Pat Franklin" <> 11/05/02 12:27PM >>>
Hello Gillian,

It is very difficult to say which beverage container (aluminum can or
plastic bottle) is environmentally preferable.  Ounce for ounce, the
aluminum can would certainly seem to be the most damaging to the environment
if all environmental impacts are taken into consideration.  That said, the
impacts are greatly mitigated when cans are recovered and used to make new
aluminum cans.  The aluminum can recycling rate is about twice as high as
the plastic beverage bottle and nearly all aluminum cans that are recycled
are recycled back into aluminum cans.  That is not true for plastic beverage
bottles, since it is not as cost effective to make new plastic bottles from
recycled bottles as it is to make new aluminum cans from used aluminum cans.

This is a very simplistic answer to a very complicated question.  I will
copy CRI's Director of Research, Jenny Gitlitz on this email.  She is much
more knowledgeable than I on this issuse.   I am also sending this out to
Green Yes in the event there is someone on that listserve that wishes to
comment on this.

The very best design for beverage containers is the glass or plastic
refillable bottle that can be reused over and over and over again without
having to drill for oil or mine bauxite, without having to manufacture a new
container and without having to crush, melt or regrind the scrap material
into a new can or bottle.  Plastic refillable bottles are more efficient
than glass refillables when the shipping distance between bottling
plant/brewery and wholesale/retail stores is long.  Glass and plastic
refillable beverage bottles are in wide use in many parts of the world
including:  Prince Edward Island, Sweden, Norway, Austria, The Netherlands,
Denmark, Germany, South America, Mexico  to name a few.

Best of luck in your studies,

Pat Franklin

Patricia Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Ste. 702
Arlington, VA 22209

TEL:   703.276.9800
FAX:   703.276.9587
  -----Original Message-----
  From: Gillian Heathcote [] 
  Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 2:47 AM
  Subject: aluminum cans vs. plastis bottles

  Dear  Container Recycling Institute,

  I am a attending the University of New South Wales in Sydney, studying
  I was wondering is you could tell me which is a more socially responsible
design; an aluminum can or a plastic bottle when packaging beverages. Both
products can be recycled, but is one more efficient than the other? where
can I find more information on this subject?

  Thank you for your time,
  Gillian Heathcote
  gillian heathcote
  ICQ#: 111825159
        Current ICQ status:
  +  More ways to contact me

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