Packaging and non-alcoholic beverages
Non-alcoholic beverages are packaged in a variety of formats: Glass, cans, cartons and plastic bottles known as PET. They are also available in a wide variety of sizes.
Packaging protects the quality of beverages and also provides a platform to communicate with consumers by providing information on pack such as details of ingredients or calories.
Cans – In Europe, aluminium and steel are used as materials for beverage cans. Cans have undergone considerable lightweighting programmes in recent years and today are more than 40% lighter than they were in 1970.
Forty years ago a can weighed around 80 grams, today a 330ml steel can weighs around 21 grams and an aluminium can may weigh as little as 10 grams. As a result the industry can produce almost three times as many cans using the same amount of metal as 30 years ago.
Lighter cans also means that many more can be transported on one truck, making for less energy use and reduced emissions.
Beverage cans are the most recycled beverage containers globally. In the EU15, the recycling rate of steel packaging is over 70% and the recycling and use of recycled content in cans saves us to 95% of the energy used for the production of virgin materials.
PET – Plastic bottles known as PET (Polyethyleneterephthalate) containers are an increasingly popular packaging format. They are re-sealable - and so ideal for people on the move who need to stay hydrated, and they are transparent – enabling consumers to see the drink that they are buying.
PET containers are 100% recyclable and the average bottle has reduced in weight by some 50% over the past 10 years.
Glass – Glass bottles are particularly used to package non-alcoholic beverages sold in cafes, bars and restaurants (known as the On trade).
There are two types of bottles – those for single use – which are light in weight, and those which are reused and refilled and so are heavier and more robust as a result.
Cartons – Beverage cartons are made out of paper and have an aluminium lining. They are used to package both single serve and multi-serve drinks. They are relatively light and increasingly recyclable with some 35% of beverage cartons now being recycled in the EU.
See also packaging reduction, re-use, recover and recycling.