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Aluminum cans slowly replace plastics to tackle marine pollution

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A number of Japanese beverage vendors have recently moved to abandon the use of plastic bottles, replacing them with aluminum cans in a bid to combat marine plastic pollution

From one garbage to another garbage just different type of garbage.

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

Just make a rule for everyone, anyone using plastic gets penalty 100000 yen.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

JAPAN could just STOP with ALL the stupid OVER-packaging !!

19 ( +23 / -4 )

It’s spelled out in ALL-Caps if Japan still has no idea what to do and “need to study on the matter”.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I wonder if the industry has studied the environmental impact of each (plastic vs aluminum) and come to an informed decision? Or if this is a knee-jerk reaction to solve one problem, while unknowingly creating new ones... I don't know myself. Genuinely curious. Just reminds me of the recent trends away from oil towards electricity. There is no doubt that reducing the use of oil in motorized vehicles is good for the environment and human health, but many either don't understand, or refuse to acknowledge, that the move to electric creates a whole host of environmentally damaging outcomes too.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Just revert back to glass bottles and redesign vending machines to drop them safely.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

From one garbage to another garbage just different type of garbage.

Yet with aluminum, there is a cottage industry in recycling, and down here, aluminum can are now up to around

¥185 per kilo for recycling, and that "different type of garbage" you refer to is a money maker for a lot of people and municipalities!

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Ain't gonna last long. Aluminum makes the goods more expensive and take more effort to process. Not to mention Japan is a island nation with extremely few natural resources meaning all aluminum has to be imported.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I don't understand the comments against switching to aluminum! It is far easier to recycle just as light as plastic and as the article states extends the shelf life of products. If you are against the switch, and sorry, glass is not as option, what other product do you recommend?

Fuzzy, I agree with you about the switch to electric vehicles. Where do people think the electricity to charge and run these vehicles comes from? It is still mostly carbon based fuel, which still causes climate change.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Aluminium can don't break down like plastics into billions and billions of microplastics which are even present in the Antarctic seabed. Microplastics are now in the food chain. Plastics are made from fossil fuels aluminium is not.

All of the damage to the planet has been caused in a very short period by the use of fossil fuels.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Hiro

Ain't gonna last long. Aluminum makes the goods more expensive and take more effort to process. Not to mention Japan is a island nation with extremely few natural resources meaning all aluminum has to be imported.

Japan imports all materials including raw materials for plastics. Plastic does not grow on trees.

All beers are in aluminium cans.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Although aluminum cans, including beer and other drink cans, still contain a plastic liner inside, that liner uses a lot less plastic than an entire plastic bottle. Plastic is usually down-cycled into lower grade products, not recycled, whereas aluminum cans become new drink cans.

Aluminum is relatively easy to recycle with a low melting point, a bit over 1/3rd that of steel, and as it’s vastly cheaper to recycle aluminum as opposed to refining bauxite ore to make new aluminum, then there’s that added cash incentive to collect and recycle it, as opposed to plastic.

Glass is great, but it’s heavy so has extra transport issues, has a melting point 2.5 times higher than that of aluminum, and where I grew up in the 70s and 80s smashed glass beer bottles were a much bigger pain (literally- a lot of cut open feet), at the beach and in the rivers than aluminum. (Personally, I do prefer beer from a glass bottle though. Asahi still comes in big bottles at the Super.)

I have an estrogen receptor brain tumor, which responds negatively to BPA from plastics. But it is so ubiquitous in our environment that it’s hard to avoid.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Typo - glass melting point is approximately 1.5 times higher than aluminum (not 2.5X).

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Glassmaking uses more energy than aluminium.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Fuzzy, I agree with you about the switch to electric vehicles. Where do people think the electricity to charge and run these vehicles comes from? It is still mostly carbon based fuel, which still causes climate change.

And that's just the obvious problem. Also need to factor in the significantly increased use of metals and mining required to upgrade and maintain all of the infrastructure and new vehicles. Aside from the local environmental damage from the mining, all this stuff comes out of the earth using heavy machinery/vehicles, which are powered by... oil. I'm pro environment and want to see us do better, but now this whole ESG movement has been politicised it is ignoring the bigger picture and we're sleepwalking into future problems.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I love aluminum!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No need for any of this at all. Just buy a good stainless steel flask, and fill it with tap water from home. You'll save a fortune, and slow down the destruction of our planet. I've been using the same flask every single day for over a decade and it still looks as good as new. I also have one for hot drinks in the winter.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I love aluminum bottles with screw tops just like the plastic bottles have but for some strange reason these days I am finding it more and more difficult to find hot can coffee in cans and more in plastic bottles which give the hot drinks a horrid plastic after taste.

Pull tab can are not practical as they need to be drunk immediately and cannot be resealed to drink slowly.

I would be in favour of legislation mandating the end to plastic bottles and replace with aluminum "bottles" ( not push/pull tap cans).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No need for any of this at all. Just buy a good stainless steel flask, and fill it with tap water from home. 

I have them sounds nice but in reality not so easy.

Can you actually get by a day out in Tokyo's summer heat in a single "flask" of water?

Getting it refilled is not so easy unless you find a park but those water fountains are not the cleanest.

Japan is far behind in free "water stations"

We I go home there are signs and apps all over directing one to free cold even hot water free refill spots in malls, stores, schools ( usually universities), etc..

My store was on the app list in Japan as a free water station but being closed or now I have removed it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

All beers are in aluminium cans.

No, not "all" as many of the brewery's here use glass bottles as well! Yes aluminum is the overwhelming "favorite" for consumer sales but far from all!

Not to mention the kegged beers that are predominate in businesses.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The same people will be just as likely to toss an aluminum bottle into the environment as a plastic one, but the aluminum bottle will cause fewer problems when thrown away. It will also reward anyone who picks it up. It would be nice to not have to consider what happens when things are improperly disposed of, but the reality is that there are plenty of people who do it.

I agree with the comments about flasks and water fountains. If you are in deep inaka and know your way around, you can get refills from springs, streams, irrigation pipes, etc., but that's a non-starter in cities. Without drinking fountains, people will walk into a convenience store for drinks, where they will also tend to buy other snacks and junk, creating more waste and health problems.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cans are far more expensive to recycle, and require far more energy to produce. They also require huge amounts of coal, bauxite, and other substances that have to be mined. Buy drinks packaged in recyclable glass or paper cartons, instead.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

expatToday  10:28 am JST

Cans are far more expensive to recycle, and require far more energy to produce. They also require huge amounts of coal, bauxite, and other substances that have to be mined. Buy drinks packaged in recyclable glass or paper cartons, instead.

Why would aluminum require coal or bauxite?

Aluminum is primarily smelted in electric furnaces,

Hydro power , wind and solar can easily power these furnaces.

In fact 75% of all aluminum ever produced are still in in use today.

It is 100% recyclable, and retains 100% of it's properties indefinitely.

Paper doesn't at at some point it has to either be placed in land fills or burned.

Carbonated drinks cannot be put is paper not can hot coffee/tea.

In fact recycling aluminum is the simplest of all products used for drinks even glass is more difficult due to difference in glass types colours etc...

Oh and those long lasting paper drink cartons are aluminum lined so more problems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It’s surely useless to say, but that producing processes and using of aluminum isn’t a better solution. Very energy intensive btw too. A slightly less polluted sea is ‘bought’ by much more polluted land and air. That’s all to remark about it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Encourage retailers and consumers to allow use of personal receptacles. Like own large bottles filled in store. I know will never work but every other "solution" has its drawbacks. Real answer is consume less. Which will never happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Whereas Georgia - Olympic sponsors - is moving from can to plastic bottle in its latest "coffee" advert

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my home state in Australia all aluminium, steel, glass beverage containers as well as drink cartons attract a 10cents refund as part of a deposit refund scheme.

The scheme began in 1970s to reduce waste and litter. A huge "cottage" industry sprang up involving collection and recycling. You never see such items discarded in open spaces and most people will never throw away in garbage.

The system has it's detractors for a variety of reasons - usually seen as an infringement on commercial rights ??? - but it has been overwhelmingly successful. This state was also a pioneer in the banning of plastic shopping bags and limiting the use of one time plastics.

Now in 2021 in Japan, tackling the plastics issue is still in it's early days. Most plastic in Japan is burnt n "thermal recycling".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It seems aluminium is better than plastic, but it would be so good if Japanese businesses could stop with the baby steps and start taking the bigger ones which are needed to face up to the environmental crisis that's brewing. Businesses, individuals and governments need to change their behaviour if we are to slow down this runaway train.

Companies need to make it much easier for consumers to bring their own containers. Surely it's not so hard to design drinks dispensers that do this safely, and without needing too much labour? For those that haven't brought a flask, they could sell the flasks too, at a price that would make people think twice before not bothering to bring them. They could phase this in, gradually offering more choice than in bottled products, to give people time to get used to the idea, and make bringing your own container a more attractive option than buying something ready-packaged. Governments could legislate so that stores would have to charge a realistic price for the plastic or aluminium bottle, which could be with a deposit system like someone mentioned for a state in Australia, incentivising the consumer and also making them aware of the 'real' cost of one-use containers.

It takes the will, and some creativity, and we can tackle these challenges in a more radical way that matches the urgency of doing so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

uktokyoToday  12:12 pm JST

Whereas Georgia - Olympic sponsors - is moving from can to plastic bottle in its latest "coffee" advert

You mean Coca-Cola!

Unfortunately Boss has gone all plastic in its larger size coffee.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just revert back to glass bottles and redesign vending machines to drop them safely.

you got to look at the weight also, far more weight to cart around in delivery trucks means more fuel burnt more CO2

0 ( +0 / -0 )

browny1Today  12:12 pm JST

Canada has had the same system since I was a child.

No one ever throws away cans or bottles.

Especially beer, beer drinkers not only return the bottles and cans but often the cardboard 24 bottle cases because they to in some provinces are worth money (but this is not a law but the beer company policy guess it saves them money and broken bottles)

Many elderly don't bother returning and just keep the cans and bottles as Charity drives regularly collect them to cash them in to help support the charity.

Here in my Tokyo neighborhood we have twice a month can collection.

But I and others rarely wait as an older man comes by regularly with his cart and we give him the cans that he brings to the nearby recycling business that pays him by the gram.

He is not what I originally thought a homeless drinker.

He actually worked all his life but can barely survive on the small pension he gets.

We all know him and like him so everyone knows the time he comes by and we all give him our cans.

This way we are getting far more than just recycling but helping him live better.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

JayelToday  07:48 am JST

Just revert back to glass bottles and redesign vending machines to drop them safely

Contrary to popular belief glass is not as easy as aluminum to recycle.

Aluminum is all the same and paint etc.. will not affect it during the re-smelting process.

Glass is not uniform in composition, and have to be sorted into different categories colour affect the process also.

Breakage it another factor and these are the reasons that before plastic cans quickly replaces glass in such things as beer and soda.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfortunately Boss has gone all plastic in its larger size coffee.

No it hasnt, there is the Boss coffee collaboration with 7/11 that is in aluminum!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But I and others rarely wait as an older man comes by regularly with his cart and we give him the cans that he brings to the nearby recycling business that pays him by the gram.

He sells by the kilo, and if he is picking up cans that are thrown out, on the street, for the regular grabage pickup, he is actually breaking the municipal law!

Municipalities take into account the money they make from recycling, and when people take it off the street, they are costing taxpayers money!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

YubaruToday  01:45 pm JST

*Unfortunately Boss has gone all plastic in its larger size coffee.*

No it hasnt, there is the Boss coffee collaboration with 7/11 that is in aluminum

Please try reading.

I will help, Large size Coffee!

now I hope you got it.

Those 7-11 collaboration are small cans all small can coffee are and have always been steel or aluminum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He sells by the kilo, and if he is picking up cans that are thrown out, on the street, for the regular grabage pickup, he is actually breaking the municipal law!

Yes he knows that as do we.

That is why he does not pick cans for the by monthly recycling.

We give him our cans directly and as long as he does not actively knock on our doors soliciting the cans or other aluminum products he is not breaking any laws.

We don't put the cans out for him to pick up we go out and wait to give them to him.

Loophole in the law.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Aluminum cans slowly replace plastics to tackle marine pollution

I guess aluminum is preferrable to plastics, but why all this one-way packaging in the first place? I remember an age where drinks came in recyclable glass bottles, which were not thrown away but collected as people would get a small deposit back.

But oh yes, that would involve human activity instead of automation... how dreadful apparently.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember when plastics were supposed to save the world -- so that we wouldn't have to cut down so many trees and use so much paper.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please try reading. I will help, Large size Coffee! now I hope you got it.

Those 7-11 collaboration are small cans all small can coffee are and have always been steel or aluminum.

Look at the one on the right! It's one of the "larger" sizes and not the small one's you keep talking about!

Live and learn! The one on the far right is not "small"!

https://www.suntory.co.jp/softdrink/boss/sevensboss/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes he knows that as do we. That is why he does not pick cans for the by monthly recycling.

You have to be living in the deep inaka if they only collect aluminum cans twice a month!

Hell EVERY municipality here collects them with the weekly trash. Yeah ONCE a week!

We give him our cans directly and as long as he does not actively knock on our doors soliciting the cans or other aluminum products he is not breaking any laws.

Never said anything about how he does it, and no comment regarding this either. No point here.

We don't put the cans out for him to pick up we go out and wait to give them to him.

Loophole in the law.

No "loophole" You are talking about apples and me oranges! Your emotions get in the way. I will bet your twice a monthly recycling is TOTALLY different from your weekly or bi-weekly burnable and non-burnable trash pickup as well! Not to mention that not everyone in your community participates in the recycling pickup twice a month either, and they throw theirs out with their regular trash for pickup!

Not everyone has the ability to hold it all for two weeks!

And I will bet too that the old guy and others like him, go around and collect aluminum cans from garbage collection points and other trash receptacles in your municipality as well!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

YubaruToday  03:28 pm JST

Look up craft Boss coffee.

That is the most popular in every convenience store none are aluminum. All plastic.

https://www.suntory.co.jp/softdrink/craftboss/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You have to be living in the deep inaka if they only collect aluminum cans twice a month!

23 wards Tokyo and very much shitamachi.

Not to mention that not everyone in your community participates in the recycling pickup twice a month either, and they throw theirs out with their regular trash for pickup!

Not possible, or improbable.

Not only does the city check before pickup but so does the person responsible for maintaining the pickup area. (My turn next year).

Any garbage with recyclables in will not be picked up a sticker will be placed on it and and it will be left behind.

If the owner doesn't retrieve it and remove the cans glass plastic then the person incharge of the pickup area will and by doing that will inevitably see something that will identify the person.

Welcome to shitamachi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aluminum is all strip mined in Africa by slave labor, including child labor, by Chinese companies, isn't it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love aluminum bottles with screw tops just like the plastic bottles have but for some strange reason these days I am finding it more and more difficult to find hot can coffee in cans and more in plastic bottles which give the hot drinks a horrid plastic after taste.

Pull tab can are not practical as they need to be drunk immediately and cannot be resealed to drink slowly.

I would be in favour of legislation mandating the end to plastic bottles and replace with aluminum "bottles" ( not push/pull tap cans).

I agree. Plastic bottles taste terrible, especially for hot drinks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

NOT ALUMI, how about pressed paper? it's already being used, cheaper than alumi, easier to dispose of too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only way to make beverage companies comply and start thinking green is to TAX THE HELL out of any product packaged in plastics.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They will pass the cost on to the consumer. Plastic, sad to say, is more environmentally friendly than aluminum - on all fronts, recyclability to boidegradability. Steel is better than aluminun, from a recycing perspective. Aluminum packaging is evil.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They will pass the cost on to the consumer. Plastic, sad to say, is more environmentally friendly than aluminum - on all fronts, recyclability to boidegradability. Steel is better than aluminun, from a recycing perspective. Aluminum packaging is evil.

Can you provide facts to back this up?

75% of all aluminum is still in circulation.

It is 100% recyclable without loss.

Paper, plastic, glass steel don't even come close.

Steel is way more difficult and they are varying blends including tin, carbon zinc, etc.. which means the steel needs to be refined and the difference metal separated.

Aluminum has no such problems just melt and make new aluminum sheet, cheap and straight forward.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Joe Blow

Aluminum is all strip mined in Africa by slave labor, including child labor, by Chinese companies, isn't it?

Top bauxit exporters in order: Australia, China, Brazil, India, Guinea.

Well, Guinea is in Africa, but it certainly does not supply "all" bauxite.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Step by step one gets to Rome.

More thermally conductive, aluminium/aluminum cans are (too) hot to hold in the hand in winter, and cold for a shorter time in summer. Vending machines, service areas and convenience stores do at least have immediate handy recycling trash cans available if you drink on the spot.

I have been trying to cut down on plastics but it's not easy. While my wife is away I have noticed the bi-weekly 5kg trash bag is mostly plastic wrappers and trays, so I try to avoid buying foods sold in wrapped trays. I make my own iced coffee and herb teas and keep them in the fridge in re-used plastic bottles.

No collections trucks in this area. Empty food cans need to be washed or they soon smell bad, so being a hassle taking them to the sorting-area at the supermarket, I consciously open fewer of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So instead of seeing floating or washed up pet bottles we will use sinkable cans that can be hidden at unseen depths. Genius.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bring back glass!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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