Canadian Packaging: Packaging for Beverages Is Growing More Sustainable
by Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
PET or glass bottle, aluminium can, beverage carton or maybe even a paper bottle, single use or multiple use – there is a huge range of choices for packaging beverages. But which is the most sustainable? The focus has increasingly been placed on ecological aspects over the last few years in this sector. And not only for packaging material: these aspects have also become important for filling and actual packaging processes.
Some beverages simply come with classic packaging. We usually buy beer or wine in a glass bottle, milk in a carton and soft drinks in a PET bottle. Over the last few years, however, customers have become ever more critical, and sustainability issues have grown in importance for the beverages sector. Plastics especially now have a bad reputation – which is often undeserved. How well a type of packaging fares when looking at the ecological balance depends on many different factors. Experts therefore are hesitant to give general advice.
A short overview: Glass bottles are neutral in taste, but also fragile and heavy. However, they are more suitable for multiple uses than any other type of packaging. PET bottles, too, can be refilled several times and then recycled. They are shatterproof and notably lighter than glass bottles. Plastics, however, have had a bad reputation with customers for some time now, in spite of the very high recycling quota for PET beverage bottles in Germany at more than 94 per cent. Beverages in aluminum cans still enjoy popularity. But the extraction of the raw material and the production of the cans from raw aluminum comes with a huge cost in terms of energy, so everything comes down to the collection quota, because there is no limit to the number of times the cans can be recycled. Beverage cartons are also always single use, but they are for the most part made from renewable raw materials. Improved procedures meanwhile ensure that the cardboard, aluminum and plastics components are separated. The Umweltbundesamt, the German Environmental Agency, therefore classifies them as “single use packages with ecological advantages.”