German Retailer Ditches Plastic for Canned Beer and Soda

German Retailer Ditches Plastic for Canned Beer and Soda

Cans - CC license by Flickr user Sunfox

 While some companies and supermarkets have been switching drinks to plastic bottles, hoping to cut emissions with lighter weight packaging, one retailer in Germany is swapping plastic bottles for aluminum cans.

Penny Markt, a discount chain, is switching 10 beverages to aluminum cans, which can be recycled infinitely back into themselves, unlike plastic PET bottles, which can only be recycled into the same material a couple times.

Announcing the change with the slogan, "The can is back," Penny Markt is now offering beer brands Bitburger, König Pilsner and Adelskronen, and Pepsi, Pepsi Light, Coca-Cola, Schwip Schwap, Fanta, Sprite and Red Bull in aluminum cans. The switch is starting in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and will expand to other states, and eventually include more beer and carbonated drink brands.

In 2003, PET bottles became the predominant beverage packaging in Germany after the country enacted a deposit law, explains European Plastics News, and retailers switched to PET to make the deposit program easier to put in place.

The impact on the can industry was severe, reducing consumption by 90 percent within months. According to data from the European can makers association BCME, prior to the introduction of the Dosenpfand law in 2003 Germany consumed 8 billion cans each year. Can consumption last year was just 750 million units. Can consumption in other European markets has remained virtually the same over the period, standing at around 9 billion cans in the UK last year and 6.5 billion in Spain.

The recycling rate for aluminum cans in Germany is now around 96 percent, according to Penny Markt, also noting that aluminum cans are more compact during transportation, leaving 18 percent less empty space during transportation than plastic bottles and 49 percent less empty space than glass bottles.

The switch has been met with some opposition from environmental groups, noted European Plastics News, primarily by groups and Green Party members that oppose the use of single-use beverage packaging over refillable containers.

 

Cans - CC license by Flickr user Sunfox