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ALUMINUM VS CARTONSHere's the cold, hard truth
Minimizing the amount of plastic that is produced is the #1 key to preventing plastic from polluting our planet and harming ecosystems. If it isn’t made, it can’t end up where it isn’t supposed to. Carton companies won't tell you this, but their packaging has a ton of plastic. Between the plastic layers in the body and the cap, this can be as much plastic as a plastic bottle!
Psst! There are some aluminum bottles out there that have a plastic neck and cap, using more plastic than a PET bottle!
As of 2020, only about 60% of U.S. households have access to curbside carton recycling. That means that cartons are rarely recycled. The industry hides this and does not publish rates but estimates are around 16% (way lower than PET). Aluminum beverage containers are recycled 50% of the time, and other scrap aluminum is recycled about 70% of the time.
Cartons are made of 6 layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum. In order to recycle them, those layers need to be separated. This is an expensive and inefficient process, so many recycling companies are unwilling or unable to process them. Cartons suffer from the lowest recycling rates of any beverage container.
Cartons use paper, and those fibers become shorter and lose strength when they get recycled, so it’s hard for cartons to use post-consumer a.k.a. recycled material. No closed loop here...
Open Water, on the other hand, uses an average of 73% recycled content, largely reducing its environmental footprint.
Myth: The plastic used by cartons is not harmful because it is “made from plants.”
TRUTH: PLANT-BASED PLASTIC IS CHEMICALLY IDENTICAL TO PLASTIC MADE WITH FOSSIL FUELS.
All physical products create some pollution...but here’s the thing: there are ways to bring that to net-zero, something carton brands haven’t done. Open Water is entirely carbon neutral (that’s right: we create net zero emissions!) and we were the very first bottled water company in the world to make that Climate Neutral commitment.
LCA studies used by many carton brands do not take into account the actual post-consumer content of cans. This completely distorts the results. In reality, cans have a comparable carbon footprint to cartons without all of the end-of-life issues.
Myth: Aluminum containers are bad because they have a big carbon footprint.
TRUTH: OPEN WATER IS ENTIRELY CARBON NEUTRAL.
Life Cycle Analysis
This stuff is complicated. We’ve tried to distill (pun totally intended) the data so it’s easy to swallow (...again).
If you want to dig in yourself, download a full independent LCA that takes into account post-consumer content, recycling rates, and everything else from start to finish.