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Packaging Q&A

Beverage Packaging

Packaging provides critical functions for producers and consumers. First and foremost, packaging protects the integrity of the product and ensures safety, quality and consistency for consumers. Second, packaging provides information – the labeling and symbols on packaging not only inform consumers about the product inside, but can help instruct consumers how to recycle. Third, packaging prevents waste from unused products. Offering a range of product sizes and packaging options lets consumers purchase the type and amount of beverage they want, without overbuying or having to discard unused product. The beverage industry has worked hard to reduce packaging, while still serving these basic functions.

How has beverage industry packaging improved over the years?

The beverage industry continues to do more with less. As we have grown our businesses and offered a broader range of products in a variety of packaging types, we also have been able to reduce the amount of packaging required to deliver beverages to consumers. For example, we have cut the total weight of packaging for carbonated soft drinks by 46 percent since 1990 while increasing the amount of product sold by 24 percent.

What does the beverage industry do to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging?

ABA members pledge to follow five packaging principles. The most important thing we do is to reduce the amount of packaging used. We also make sure that the packaging used is recyclable and include recycled content in the packages we produce. Lastly, we employ reusable packaging for transportation of our products to our retail customers and seek to help educate consumers about recycling beverage containers.

What major packaging types are used?

The most common beverage package is the aluminum can, the most widely recycled consumer package in the U.S. Aluminum also is the most valuable commodity in the waste stream. The fastest growing packaging material is PET or polyethylene terephthalate. This plastic packaging material is used by many beverage companies for bottled beverages due to its lightweight and durability. Bottles made from PET are used for a variety of beverages such as water, fruit juices, sports drinks and carbonated soft drinks. The other widely used plastic beverage package is high-density polyethylene or HDPE. This is used for fruit juices and drinks, but is more commonly used in milk and bottled water products. However, glass is the oldest beverage packaging and is used for iced teas, some fruit juices, soda and sparkling waters.