Napcor releases Life Cycle Assessment for beverage container systems

The National Association for PET Container Resources (Napcor) released a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that compares PET, glass and aluminium carbonated soft drink (CSD) and still water beverage container systems. The assessment found that PET plastic bottles, when compared to aluminium cans and glass bottles, are significantly better for the environment.

The study was completed by Franklin Associates, a leading LCA consulting firm and pioneer in the field, and went through an extensive peer review and verification process. Findings show that when it comes to the best beverage packaging for the environment, the answer is PET.

Compared to glass and aluminium beverage containers, PET plastic bottles create less solid waste, use less water during production and generate fewer emissions that contribute to acid rain and smog.

If U.S. consumers selected PET plastic bottles instead of glass bottles for their soda beverages over the course of one year, it would be the same as:

  • The amount of GHG emissions avoided by recycling instead of landfilling nearly 53,000 garbage trucks of waste
  • The carbon sequestered by adding almost 1.3 million acres of U.S. forest

Similarly, if U.S. residents choose PET plastic bottles instead of aluminium cans for their soda beverages over the course of one year, resulting impacts would be the same as:

  • Conserving 4.4 billion liters of water
  • Removing 688,000 gas powered cars off the road annually
  • Diverting 138 million bags filled with trash for recycling versus landfills

The LCA compared the most commonly used beverage containers for carbonated soft drinks and still water and found that a 16.9 ounce PET plastic water bottle compared to a standard-size 12 ounce aluminium can:

  • Creates 80% less solid waste
  • Uses 53% less water during production
  • Has 74% lower global warming potential
  • Generates 68-83% fewer emissions that contribute to the formation of acid rain and smog

The cradle-to-grave LCA looked at commonly used PET plastic, glass and aluminium beverage containers for CSD and still water. It found that glass tends to have the highest environmental impacts, followed by aluminium and then PET bottles. PET plastic bottles are a more sustainable beverage container option and have a lower impact on several key environmental metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy demand, water consumption, smog, acid rain and eutrophication potential.

Visit Napcor