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Friday, December 8, 2023


Editor’s note: The Environmental Planning and Policy Commission (EPPC) is an ASUCD commission that works to create a more environmentally sustainable campus. Every week, EPPC will answer questions from readers or share stories on green-living.

Which is greener: cans or bottles?

If you’re anything like me, then two things that most give you a warm, fuzzy feeling are being eco-friendly and drinking beer.  As a friend to both the environment and you, dear reader, allow me to enlighten you on how to stay green when cracking open a cold one.

To start, let’s explore the genesis of our respective vessels of choice. The cans we know and love require processing with bauxite, a mineral that is generally strip-mined. Strip mining has proven to be an unsustainable practice. According to a 2010 report in the journal Science, strip-mining has caused numerous environmental problems by exploiting the lands from which the mineral is extracted.

Glass bottles, on the other hand, are processed using Silica, which gets the green stamp of approval from us tree-huggers. The energy ratio is about two to one, with glass being the less energy-intensive and a more responsible choice. However, there’s much more to consider: what happens after you are laying on the ground next to your beer container of choice? Aluminum cans are 45 percent more likely to be recycled, which just about makes up for the heavy energy expenditures during their creation (assuming that you folks are directing your cans to the recycle bin).

Here’s where it gets tricky: in order to maximize your green efforts, you should know where your beer comes from. If your beer is being trucked across the country, the heavier glass bottles will result in about 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions. Local brews are always your best bet, and double points if your neighborhood brewery emphasizes sustainable practices. 

Party on, green warriors.  

Ask EPPC questions or tell us how to live green every week.  Submit to margaret.link@gmail.com and win a green prize worth your effort.


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