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Canned Beer Vs Bottled Beer and the Fallacy of False Choices

Business  (tags: abuse, americans, beer, business, consumers, corruption, dishonesty, economy, environment, government, law, lies, marketing, politics, recycling, society )

- 1735 days ago -
The real carbon footprint of beer is in the manufacture of the container, and the choice isn't between a new can or a new bottle, but between a refillable bottle, like most of the world has, and the disposable container that Americans have been trained->

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Kit B (276)
Monday August 19, 2013, 7:12 am
Photo Credit: Promo image Take off, eh?

Steven Perlberg writes in Slate and Business Insider Why Canned Beer Is Way Better Than Bottled Beer and claims:

Canning innovation is on the rise. And why not? It's cheaper to produce and better for the environment…First, canned beer weighs less. Less packaging means you can move the same amount of product in fewer trips, reducing a firm's expenses and carbon footprint at the same time.

This statement demonstrates the fallacy of false choices, looking at cans vs bottles without including a third option, which is to return and refill glass bottles.

The real carbon footprint of beer is in the manufacture of the container, and the choice isn't between a new can or a new bottle, but between a refillable bottle, like most of the world has, and the disposable container that Americans have been trained to use. Discussing this issue last year I looked at the reason that beer drinkers north of the Canadian border drink from refillable bottles and Americans don't:

Corporate concentration is the reason that hosers north of the border are drinking their beer from bottles and Americans are drinking it from BPA lined genderbending disposable aluminum cans. Canned beer became the American standard with the completion of the interstate highway system, which let brewers build massive centralized breweries and ship the stuff all over the country by truck. But you couldn't do that with returnable bottles, as the distribution and handling of bottles was a local business. So the brewers took their huge savings from their massive, efficient beer factories and put it into advertising and price cutting, and put almost every local brewery out of business

In fact, using a refillable bottle uses 93% less energy than making a new container. And the washing water? it takes between " 47 percent and 82 percent less water than is needed to manufacture new one-way bottles for the delivery of the same amount of beverage."

Then Perlberg is dismissive of the issue of the Bisphenol A lining in beer cans:

Canned beer also chills better, and collective hysteria over BPA poisoning — a chemical in the lining of aluminum and plastic products — has gone out of vogue.

Really? One could point out that the thermal mass of a beer bottle works both ways, it stays cold while you drink it. As for the BPA, quoting an older post again:

The science on BPA is controversial, and research is ongoing. So I am not saying that some of the effects of drinking beer, such as becoming stupid and depressed, , or getting fat, , or growing man boobs is due to the BPA linings rather than the beer itself, but it surprises me that people who wouldn't touch a polycarbonate bottle would happily down a can of beer when there is a perfectly good alternative.

Finally the author goes on about convenience. But that is always the case, isn't it? We have been trained to throw things away and pay taxes to have other people take them away and separate them and recycle them instead of returning them. It goes back to the sixties, a shift from corporate responsibility for dealing with containers to "convenience" and citizens responsibility to pay for that, and we all fell for it. That's why recycling continues to be bullshit.

There are so many stories in that can of beer. After writing this, I need one.
****(Charts and photos with article at VISIT SITE)

By: Lloyd Alter | Tree Hugger |

JL A (281)
Monday August 19, 2013, 8:10 am
In the 1970's my friends chose the brand that had a program to take their own bottles back in their own cases (Buffalo) that usually cost less than other brands and had better flavor than many--never understood why that stopped with the beginning of recycling requirements.

Mike M (40)
Monday August 19, 2013, 8:52 am
What was that saying about America being the throwaway capital of the world

Alice C (1797)
Monday August 19, 2013, 8:53 am
I don't drink much beer ~ but when I do ~ I like it in glass : )

Kit B (276)
Monday August 19, 2013, 9:04 am

I'm not much of beer drinker but one can not but notice that the really good imported beers are often in bottles. We do have a "throw away" mentality and that could change, we have not always been like this. Reuse, repair, recycle. We can do this.

Peggy A (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 9:07 am

Past Member (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 11:16 am
Many cities have breweries and microbreweries that offer patrons the choice of purchasing a growler, a large refillable bottle that contains roughly four pints of beer. Since I believe that local beer has the smallest carbon footprint, then the growler is my beer container of choice. When I finished one, I simply wash it(typically in my dishwasher) and then take it back to the brewery to be refilled with any of the many options available. Please support your local breweries.

However, if one lives in a small, somewhat isolated community, the nearest brewery might be some distance away...and then the practical choice may come down to what's available at the local convenience store, gas station, or grocery. Then, the aluminum can becomes a better choice than a glass bottle. While both are fairly easily recycled, aluminum has a slight advantage over glass in terms of the technical issues of recycling. And, the big advantage that the aluminum can has, in terms of recycling, is that every community that recycles takes aluminum, but there are communities that, for whatever reason, don't take glass.

So the best choice is to support local brewers and reuse #growlers; the next best choice is to recycle.

S S (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 11:30 am
Thank you.

Kit B (276)
Monday August 19, 2013, 11:36 am

Oh fiddle. I can't send you a Green Star Brian. I had not heard of a "growler" but it sounds interesting. I am of course addressing glass as it was when a deposit was made and refund given. I think that's a wonderful incentive to recycle. Many here will not recycle any thing more than their coke or beer cans. Even that is only when they happen to think about using a separate bin.

lee e (114)
Monday August 19, 2013, 11:58 am
I think I prefer aluminum -though I don't drink that much beer - I'm one of those oddities that prefers the "taste" of aluminum, but then I like the smell of gasoline - go figure - I do recycle my cans when I get a duet or trio - and you won't find a more ardent anti-fracktitioner, nor do I own a car!

. (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 12:04 pm
I can remember when Boller soda was sold in quart bottles. Each was worth 10 cents. If you bought a case, that was 1.20 refund. In the 1960's, a refund of $4.80 was a few carton of cigarettes, and you could fill your car with gas.

donald Baumgartner (6)
Monday August 19, 2013, 12:28 pm
Brother in law likes cans, I don't drin.

Keith H (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 2:05 pm
Thank you.

Vicky P (476)
Monday August 19, 2013, 3:40 pm
I would bottles are a bit better just because there's no BPA in glass I don't think and there's some in cans. But myself I don't enjoy beer too much, I'm more of a vodka and cooler drinker

Nelson Baker (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 3:52 pm
Thank you.

Birgit W (160)
Monday August 19, 2013, 4:04 pm
As long as it is beer who cares. But bottles could be reused again.

Dianna M (16)
Monday August 19, 2013, 4:05 pm
Quick question: Which would YOU prefer to have thrown into your yard by the partiers in your town--glass, plastic, or aluminum?

Sheila D (194)
Monday August 19, 2013, 6:27 pm
Don't drink beer, but sons both do and both agree that glass is much better than can...only youngest recycles tho - rats.

Past Member (0)
Monday August 19, 2013, 6:55 pm
Glass is the way to go! Thx Kit

Kit B (276)
Monday August 19, 2013, 7:28 pm

Allan is right back in the 1960's we could fill up a car for $5.00 now that's memory lane. Those cars needed filling up often. And, we did take bottles back to get the deposit refund.

Dianna, I would prefer the party folks not throw trash in my yard. Though I do not see that question as relevant to the topic.

Freya H (357)
Monday August 19, 2013, 8:15 pm
Well, then get all your beer on-tap in a reusable glass or stein. Unfortunately a lot of us like to drink in the relative safety of our homes. Fortunately, you can re-use growlers.

Kit B (276)
Monday August 19, 2013, 8:18 pm

Another voice for growlers. I wonder if that is regional or just something beer drinkers know about. Like Lindsey, I like a single malt Scotch. Though a very cold beer during a football game is very nice.

S J (130)
Tuesday August 20, 2013, 4:41 pm
Don't drink beer, but I always choose bottle. You know when I was a kid, here, in my country, even fish sauce came in glass, when we finished we refund the bottles. Now all gone, replaced by plastic and aluminum. Rubbish are around everywhere.

Noted, thanks Kit.

Past Member (0)
Friday August 23, 2013, 3:22 am
Kit, the problem with cans is not hat it not only changes the taste of beer (which it does), but that's it is full of BPA. The real question is if bottles have deposits and need to be returned, why are they not refillable. I'm certain not many people know this and assume that they are refillable. Kit, beer shouldn't be too cold, unless you want to hide all the flavor.

Kit B (276)
Friday August 23, 2013, 1:42 pm

John, the only way to drink beer is icy cold, spoken as an American. My choice is Guinness draught and I know they don't drink it cold in Ireland, but I do.

Klaus Peters (14)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 10:50 pm
Last time I was in Germany we took our crate of empties to the store and bought a new one.. If you didn't have a crate of empties you would pay a deposit for the bottles and the plastic crate. This is real recycling, reuse, not melt and remake, no packaging either. Beer bottles were standardized it did not matter which brewery received them.
We stored our beer in the cellar just like Pubs did and it was slightly cooler that way, no fridge.
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