The packaging options - Aluminum, PET and glass


The packaging options - Aluminum, PET and glass

In this blog article, we address the three most common packaging options in the beverage market:

  • Aluminum cans
  • PET bottles
  • Glass bottles

But before we delve into the mentioned packaging alternatives in detail, let's take a closer look at the global market for bottled water.


In the global market of bottled water, the plastic bottle (PET) maintains a significant majority with over 80% of the sales share compared to the alternatives of aluminum cans and glass bottles. This dominance can be primarily attributed to the comparatively cost-effective production of PET bottles and their lightweight nature.


The segment of aluminum cans is predicted to experience the fastest growth during the forecast period.
An annual growth rate of up to 6.4% from 2023 to 2028 is expected here. This is because the can, as a container for beverages, offers an airtight and light-resistant packaging. These properties ensure excellent product protection, thus maintaining the quality of the water permanently.

Within the packaged water industry, these advantages are of great significance, as they can ensure freshness and purity throughout the entire shelf life. Beverage packaging plays a crucial role in daily consumption, influencing not only the shelf life and quality of products but also their environmental footprint. The range of packaging materials is diverse, with plastic, glass, and aluminum being the most common options in the beverage industry.

The International Aluminium Institute has analyzed the circularity of these three beverage packaging materials. The results show that all three materials still have more opportunities to maximize their full potential.

However, globally, the aluminum can remains the most recycled single-use beverage container with the lowest losses in the recycling process.


Aluminum cans provide the best solution for a sustainable circular economy. Once collected for recycling, the efficiency within the combined recycling process (sorting, reprocessing, and thermal processing) reaches 90%.

Introducing deposit systems can further reduce aluminum losses. Ideally, with deposit systems in place, aluminum cans can achieve a recycling rate of up to 98%.

The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) also confirms that the aluminum can is the most recycled beverage packaging worldwide. In Austria, the recycling rate of
aluminum cans is just over 70%. Thanks to our optimized material cycles, within 60 days, a discarded aluminum can be transformed into a new can (or another high-quality product such as aluminum foil, yogurt lids, etc.).



Aluminum has been produced since the 19th century. During the initial extraction of
freshly obtained aluminum from bauxite, the energy consumption and associated
ecological impact are quite significant. However, 75% of all aluminum ever
produced, dating back over 200 years, is still in circulation today. This is because
this material is infinitely recyclable without any loss of quality.


While the initial production of one kilogram of aluminum requires approximately 13 to 18
kilowatt-hours of energy, recycling one kilogram of aluminum saves 4 kilograms
of bauxite, 2 kilograms of alumina, and 14 kWh of electricity. Applied to
aluminum beverage cans, this means that a can made from recycled material
requires only 5% of the energy compared to producing it anew.


With the widespread introduction of deposit systems expected by 2025,
this balance can be further improved.


The aluminum can has several advantages compared to its competitors - the PET bottle and the glass bottle. In addition to its stability and resistance to breakage, material efficiency has steadily increased: by 20% over the past 20 years. This means that a 0.5-liter can nowadays weighs only 16 grams, with the thickness of the sidewall being less than a hair's breadth.

In addition to its material efficiency, the aluminum can also convinces consumers with the following advantages: it is space-saving, easily transportable, and quickly chillable.

The lightweight nature also brings savings within logistics and thus in CO2 emissions. Compared to glass beverage packaging, aluminum cans require more than double the storage space, and compared to PET bottles, transporting
aluminum cans saves around 30% of space.

Lastly, for the beverage industry, the aluminum can also offers the essential advantage that harmful light influences cannot affect product quality.


Worldwide, approximately 500 billion plastic beverage bottles are sold each year. Less than half of them are collected separately, and only 7% of the total material
is recycled into new bottles.

Currently, in Austria, approximately 1.6 billion plastic beverage bottles are put into circulation annually. Of these, the current collection rate is 70% (as of 2020).

When plastic packaging is considered as a whole (PET, HDPE, PP, LDPE, PS), the recycling rate of plastic in Austria is only 14%. For PET bottles, the recycling rate within Austria is higher, at 31.7%. However, according to forecasts by "Zero Waste Europe," the possibilities are limited.
By 2030, at most, 42% of the produced material can be utilized in the circular economy, even though a deposit system will be mandatory in this country by 2025.



The glass bottle enjoys a good image regionally or nationally due to the idea of reusability. The reusable rate for beer glass bottles was 57.6% in Austria in 2022.
Comparatively, the rate of reusable bottles for mineral water (16.7%) and soft drinks (6.4%) is relatively low. Reusable glass bottles can theoretically be refilled up to 50 times and continually shuttle back and forth between the bottler and the point of sale. However, due to wear and tear of the glass bottles, sometimes refill rates of only 5 to 10 times are achieved.

In addition to reusable glass bottles, single-use glass bottles are also in circulation - primarily in 0.33-liter quantities and mostly in high class restaurants. On average, glass packaging can be recycled back into the system by 60%.
However, compared to other beverage packaging, glass bottles have significant drawbacks: while the idea of reusability is understandable in terms of sustainability with glass bottles, the eternal transport of heavier glass bottles causes significantly higher overall greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the further the bottle needs to be transported between the point of sale and the bottling location, the worse
its ecological balance.

Regionally, reusable glass bottles can be considered "sustainable" - but not for internationally operating companies that distribute their products globally.
Due to the high weight, on the one hand, transport and storage costs would skyrocket, and on the other hand, an even larger carbon footprint would be created.



After comparing the three packaging options in the beverage sector (aluminum can, PET bottle, and glass bottle), there can only be one winner: the infinitely recyclable aluminum can.