Zero Beverage Container Waste?

Alternatives to packaged beverages

Starbucks mugAchieving Zero Beverage Container Waste, A to Z:

Alternatives to packaged beverages

Daily consumption of packaged beverages has become the norm for the average American.

From 1960-1970, the average person bought 200-250 packaged drinks each year, and many of those were in refillable bottles. Before the late 1960’s, fountain drinks, draft beer, and water fountains complemented people’s at-home consumption. As refillables were phased out, as technology developed to enable single-serving plastic bottles, and as industry marketing efforts were ramped up, packaged beverage consumption grew and grew.

By 1990 it reached 546 bottles and cans per capita, and by 2000 it surpassed 600 (view a graph). CRI now estimates that the average person in the United States will consume 686 beverage bottles and cans in 2006. Note that this is an average for every person in the country. Because many segments of the population cannot possibly consume this much—including infants and toddlers, the sick or elderly, or the incarcerated, for example—it follows that most children and adults are actually consuming far more than the national average: or more than two packaged beverages every single day.

Is it time to question our consumption of packaged soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, and teas? What would happen if we filled our children’s thermoses with juice from a large jug, like our mothers did 30 years ago? If we made conscious decisions to buy family-size rather than single-serving size bottles of soda and juice? If we chose to drink from the water cooler at work instead of from a new plastic bottle? These choices would surely save money for the average American, and they would also reduce energy and resource consumption. There are also health benefits of reducing our consumption of sugary sodas, as well as diet drinks.

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