Why aren't we drinking water and milk out of cans?

Illustration for article titled Why aren't we drinking water and milk out of cans?
Photo: Andrei Stanescu (iStock)

By now, the reasons for moving beyond single-use plastics almost always outweigh their benefits. Pro-plastic arguments frequently boil down to “it’s convenient” or “it’s how things have been for a long time,” while the former include everything from the growing list of microplastics’ harmful effects on ecosystems to continuity errors on Game of Thrones.

In June, PepsiCo announced that it would phase out non-recycled plastics for Bubly and Aquafina packaging, in addition to “testing consumer preferences” for aluminum cans with the latter. In keeping with the eternal conflict between Pepsi and Coke, The Coca-Cola Company has announced its own initiative to transition its Dasani water away from plastics. By later this year in the northeastern U.S., Dasani will be available in aluminum cans; the cans will expand nationwide through 2020, along with the debut of aluminum bottles. Coca-Cola will also release the “HybridBottle,” made with a mix of plant-based materials and recycled plastics.

Sure, trying to avoid drinking out of a plastic bottle won’t immediately reverse climate change or deforestation or any other macro-level environmental issue, but at least it’s a start in terms of combating widespread plastic waste. And given that some of the largest companies in the world have begun to enlist in the cause, it’s nice to know that we’re finally starting to take these issues seriously.


It had The Takeout staff thinking: Why don’t we drink everything—milk, juices—out of cans or Tetra Paks? Is it that the plastics lobby is all-powerful? Or are we such creatures of habit that the idea of canned milk is total anathema?

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Wait, how did we go from a renewable resource in aluminum cans to Tetra Packs, which are woefully difficult to recycle?

Anyway, that aside, we don’t drink lightly-flavored beverages from cans because the can imparts a slightly metallic taste to what’s in them. Several bottlers do make canned water, including brewers when there’s an emergency, and there is a taste issue.

Also, cans aren’t generally resealable which limits their usefulness as people drink water at a different pace than they do sodas and juices. They make aluminum bottle-cans now that are resealable, but they’re not as common and the whole “taste” issue above kills them.