I just read the article "Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System In U.S.". Discussing the environmental impact of this system, the article says:

Until that facility [in Portland, OR] is built — likely by 2020 — all the refillable bottles will be sent to a facility in Montana to be washed. But even with that drive, Schoening said, the carbon savings of refillable bottles are big. "Every time that bottle gets reused, you're cutting the carbon footprint of that bottle in half," Schoening said. "It's the most sustainable choice in the beer aisle."

A 50% reduction (if true) is good, but how much is that in concrete terms?

For a standard 500ml beverage container, what is the environmental impact of production from virgin materials, compared to recycled materials?

  • I am interested in aluminum, glass, and clear plastic (PET).
  • Environmental impact includes, at a minimum, the energy and water required for production of all feedstocks, and the total carbon emissions of the production process.
  • Do not include labels and transportation -- I'm interested in a "cradle to factory gate" analysis.
  • 1
    Note that PET bottles are often labeled as refillable, but they are not actually refilled (one of the great lies of the beverage industry). They are shredded and new bottles are made from the material. – Jan Doggen Sep 18 at 7:22

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