Recycling Unpacked: Assessing the Circular Potential of Beverage Containers in the U.S.

Aluminum Cans Show Highest Circular Performance and Potential of U.S. Beverage Packages, New Analysis Finds: A new report assessing three U.S. beverage packaging types - aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic PET bottles - finds aluminum cans have the highest circular performance and potential. The analysis, Recycling Unpacked: Assessing the Circular Potential of Beverage Containers in the United States, published by Metabolic as part of a study commissioned by the CMI, examines the role of a circular economy in creating clean, stable material streams that can displace primary resource production as they are recycled and repurposed.

  

 


In the current U.S. system, more than 80 percent of beverage cans collected for recycling are recovered and turned back into new beverage containers, compared with 59 percent of glass bottles and only 13 percent of plastic PET bottles.


The report also analyzed the carbon emission reduction potential for the three beverage packaging types under three future scenarios – 100-percent collection, 100-percent sortation and a national deposit system. In each future scenario, the aluminum can delivered the highest carbon emission reduction potential.