Up Next: Drinking Water in Aluminum Cans

Aluminum Can CloseupSoon, you’ll be drinking water in aluminum cans. Coca-Cola’s Dasani brand is rolling out a three-part strategy to use mostly recycled material for its water bottles by 2030.

For the first step, Dasani will debut a new hybrid bottle created from half renewable/recycled PET plastic along with new PET plastic. These bottles should hit the stores by mid-2020. Second, more Dasani PureFill water dispensers will be offered for corporate installations as the company expands its options for drink dispensing products.

And third, Coke plans to roll out Dasani water in aluminum cans across the northeastern U.S. in the fall. This program will be expanded nationwide with a full roll-out of the new aluminum bottles on target for 2020.

Coca-Cola notes that the redesign of the packaging is part of the company’s commitment to reducing its overall environmental footprint. The company will use a smarter package design and include more recycled and renewable materials.

Packaging Innovation, Coca-Cola North America, Sneha Shah, says, “Designing our packages to reduce the number of raw materials used and incorporating recycled and renewable content in our bottles to help drive a circular economy for our packaging is an important part of our commitment to doing business the right way.” 

The changes are not wholly altruistic. Part of the motivation is competition. Earlier this year, Pepsi’s Aquafina brand announced plans to introduce aluminum cans as part of a move to reduce plastic use.

Drinking Water in Aluminum Cans

Other companies had already taken the lead in aluminum packaging for water. Vita Coco launched a new water brand called Ever and Ever, packed in aluminum cans. Liquid Death, promoted as 100% mountain water, is also sold in recyclable aluminum cans.

Companies are paying attention to increased consumer concerns about the dramatic increase in plastic waste and its effect on the environment. Plastics are showing up in the food supply, and plastic microplastics have been found in rainwater in the Rocky Mountains.

Michael Kirban, CEO of Vita Coco notes that aluminum is better for the environment. “Because the majority of aluminum is made from recycling…emissions on a recycled aluminum product are much lower than a PET,” said Kirban.

Vita Coco worked with Lonely Whale, an ocean environmental nonprofit, to begin experimenting with aluminum packaging for water. “The idea came about with them as they were launching a campaign against plastic water bottles,” said Kirban.

Whether for purely environmental reasons or because of the positive impact on the bottom line, these steps show that corporations are now trying to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and logistics.

Ultimately, however, creating nationwide access to clean drinking tap water would eliminate much of the need for packaged water in the U.S. That would require cities and states to invest the money needed to adhere to current water quality laws.

Until then, aluminum cans are a step in the right direction.