WASHINGTON, DC – November 12, 2019 – The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) affirms the beverage can as the most recycled drink package in the world. In the United States, the recycling rate for the aluminum beverage can of 50 percent is considerably higher than the U.S. recycling rate for the plastic PET bottle of 26 percent. The recycling rate for aluminum cans is high in other parts of the world as well, including Brazil (98%) and Europe (75%).
CMI released this statement after Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey’s comments about the plastic recycled PET bottle having a “much lower” carbon footprint than the aluminum can. The carbon footprint of both containers is comparable, and the aluminum can performs significantly better than the plastic PET bottle on critical sustainability metrics including recycling rate, recycled content and economic value.
“The average aluminum can in the United States has a recycled content of 73 percent. This is significantly higher than plastic PET bottles in the United States, which have less than 10 percent recycled content,” said CMI President Robert Budway. “Most all recycled cans being transformed into new cans has a positive environmental impact. When an aluminum can is produced from recyclable material, it saves more than 90 percent of the energy used and greenhouse gas emissions produced in comparison to making that same aluminum can from virgin material.”
The aluminum can provides needed revenue to the recycling system with its relatively high economic value. A recent two-year average shows in the scrap market recycled aluminum cans are worth in the United States more than four times that of plastic PET bottles. Budway added, “This high economic value means recyclers want the aluminum cans back so they can get desperately needed revenue to support the rest of the recycling system. In other words, aluminum cans help support the recycling of many other less economically viable materials.”
“All these metrics together mean the beverage can is the only container that consumers can recycle with the confidence that their package will actually be recycled into a new, recyclable product and that their action will have a significant environmental impact,” Budway stated. “The can’s advantage in these metrics also mean the aluminum can is the container that can most help brands meet their ambitious sustainability goals including higher recycled content and increased recycling rates for their beverage packaging.
The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) is the national trade association of the metal and composite can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States. The can industry accounts for the annual domestic production of approximately 119 billion food, beverage and general line cans; which employs more than 28,000 people with plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa; and generates about $17.8 billion in direct economic activity. CMI members are committed to providing safe, nutritious and refreshing canned food and beverages to consumers.
Scott Breen, Vice President, Sustainability