Replace The Plastic Bottles In Vending Machines With Cans!

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Single-use plastic bottles are clogging our oceans, rivers, streets, landfills and poisoning our air when they're burned in incinerators. One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold this year. But, at best, less than one third of these plastic bottles will be recycled.

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With at least 15 million metric tons of plastic entering our oceans each year, experts predict that there will be one pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish by 2025 and, if we do not change course now, that plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050.

One way to help reduce the amount of plastic entering our waste streams and our environment is by replacing the plastic bottles in vending machines with aluminum cans. Most vending machine products offered in plastic bottles are also offered in aluminum cans, making this an easy swap.

The majority of plastic bottles will be burned in incinerators, buried in a landfill or end up littered in our environment. The smaller amount of plastic bottles that do make it to a recycling facility are “downcycled”, turned into fibers that are typically used in fabric, carpeting and decking that are not usually recycled again before ending up in a landfill or incinerator.

By contrast, aluminum cans are turned back into aluminum cans, supporting circular, closed-loop manufacturing. For example, 70% of a Coca-Cola can is made from recycled content while plastic beverage bottles are made from virgin plastic derived from fossil fuels because it is significantly cheaper than recycled plastic.

In addition to its negative environmental impacts, plastic bottles have an impact on human health. A recent study found microplastics contamination in a stunning 93% of the globally-sourced bottled waters they tested at levels two times higher than those they'd previously recorded in tap water samples. Microplastics were also recently discovered in all three sides of the human placenta - mom, baby, and chorionic membrane and experts estimate that we are all ingesting roughly a credit’s card worth (5 grams) of plastic each week with effects on our health that are not yet fully studied.

Beverages packaged in aluminum cans reduce microplastics exposure.


Do you work in an office building, hospital, or other institution that has vending machines? Or perhaps you are a student in a high school, college or university that has vending machines in its dorms, offices and food service locations? If so, you could convince the management to replace any beverages sold in plastic bottles with drinks sold in cans! A group at the State University of New York at New Paltz did just that and inspired the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to follow suit. Click here to read SUNY New Paltz’s case study to learn more.


Download our fact sheet on replacing plastic bottles in aluminum cans as a PDF.


Want to arm yourself with more information? We recommend reading the two reports below to help you make your case:


The False Promise Of Bioplastics and Compostable Plastics


Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles