Triple Pundit: Is Craft Beer’s Move To Aluminum A Dirty Choice?

Aluminum cans are lighter and easier to produce than glass bottles, but it is also one of the least green metals on the planet.

Craft beer is considered by many to be one of the leading green industries in America right now.  High costs have inspired brewers to treat their own waste water, ship across the country by rail, and reclaim heat from boiling tanks for use elsewhere in the brewing process.  Support from craft beer drinkers has also given them the freedom to grow their own hops and move to more expensive organic ingredients.

Sadly this seems to be taking a turn.  A lot of craft beer is now being switched from glass bottles to aluminum cans.  The reason being that people want to take beer hiking, backpacking, to the beach, and ball games.  Glass is simply too heavy.  Aluminum also has benefits such as being lighter for reduced shipping costs, the recycling process is less energy-intensive, and canning lines for these small breweries are a small fraction of the size of an unreliable and always breaking bottling line.  Yet despite all this, the move to aluminum is the wrong one.

Aluminum is an amazing metal.  It’s strong enough to be put into cars, bicycles and airplanes.  It’s light enough to make a drastic improvement in shipping costs for beer and soda.  It’s also energy-cheap to recycle it due to its pliability.  But for all the good aluminum does, it has to come from somewhere, right?  It needs to be mined, and the mining process and the refining of aluminum is quite possibly one of the least green things on this planet.

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Originally published on Triple Pundit. Republished with kind permission. 

Photo: Serious Eats

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