aluminium beverage cans

Aluminium cans to replace plastic bottles in Japan

In a move towards a more sustainable economy, Japanese beverage vendors are switching out plastic bottles for aluminium cans.

A select number of Japanese brands now offer drinks packaged in aluminium cans instead of plastic bottles. The decision is framed as a counteractive measure in the fight against marine plastic pollution.

According to the WWF, each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans. 90% of seabirds have microplastics in their stomachs. Yet plastic remains the world’s packaging material of choice due to its low price point as well as its versatility when it comes to functionality. Globally, around 350 million tonnes are produced in packaging applications.

But with environmental consciousness increasingly guiding consumer choices and national plastic bans proliferating as of late, brands are starting to invest in sustainable technologies and products.

Ryohin Keikaku Co, a group of independently managed Japanese stores that also operates beverage vendor Muji, has sold all 12 teas and soft drinks included in the brand’s product portfolio in aluminium cans instead of plastic bottles since April of this year. The decision came after data revealed that the rate of ‘horizontal recycling’, which sees material from a product reused to render a comparable product, is substantially higher for aluminium cans than for plastic bottles.

According to the Japan Aluminium Association and the Council for PET Bottle Recycling, the horizontal recycling rate for aluminium cans is 71% while the horizontal recycling rate for plastic bottles is 24,3%.

For drinks, aluminium cans are the better alternative when it comes to shelf life.

Read more: Aluminium cans