Betcha now you’re going to point out that there are several plastic bottles out there that are made from plants. PLANTS! That has to be the most eco-friendly! Well, it’s true that they are produced with less energy, but this doesn’t change the fact that the end product is still plastic and that means that they come with all of plastic’s end-of-life problems. A common misconception is that just because they’re made from plants, they’re compostable. Most often, they’re not. Even when bottles are labeled as biodegradable or compostable, it doesn’t mean you can just toss them in your backyard and watch them dissolve into the soil. The process requires an industrial composting facility. In order to even get to an industrial composter, the bottles need to be separated from petroleum-based plastics (and that just isn’t happening), so they usually end up in landfills and oceans anyway. Not sounding like such a great option anymore, huh? Still thirsty for knowledge about plant based plastics? Check this out.
Cartons (like Tetrapaks)
These guys are more complicated than they seem... Shelf-stable cartons are made of multiple thin layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum. Every single carton contains all these materials, so recycling them can be quite the challenge. In fact, only half of American households have access to curbside recycling for cartons, which means that a lot of these packages never even get the chance to be recycled!
Although glass is also infinitely recyclable (Woot! Woot!), it doesn’t get recycled nearly as often as aluminum does (34% vs 67%). It’s also the heaviest beverage container, so transporting it takes a lot of fuel and creates the most carbon emissions.