Why aluminium is the worst single use choice !
But…aluminum is 100% recyclable, right? How is it the worst single-use choice? After all, recycled aluminum uses only 5% of the energy used to produce virgin aluminum, and emits only 5% of the greenhouse gasses.
The problems occur on the front end, when aluminum is created in the first place. Aluminum is made from the mineral bauxite that must be strip-mined, an extractive process that devastates ecosystems. Then enormous amounts of electricity are required in several steps to turn the bauxite into aluminum. The carbon emissions are 5 times greater creating aluminum than in creating plastic, but that is not the worst part. The release of chemicals called perfluorocarbons are 9,200 times more potent than CO2 in creating global warming, according to the report “ReUse Wins” produced by Upstream.
Once used, aluminum can be recycled and has a ready market. But recycling has its own footprint made from the collection, sorting, cleaning, and manufacturing into the next product. Note: That next product can only use 73% (on average) recycled material; 27% must be virgin aluminum.
In short, replacing billions of single-use plastic bottles and cups with billions of single-use aluminum cups would cause world-wide shortages in a material that is critically needed, turn acres of land into bauxite strip mines and emit millions of tons of potent greenhouse gasses.