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Why Canned Water isn’t as Good for the Environment as You Think

In recent years, canned water has been touted as an eco-friendly alternative to bottled water. However, when scrutinising its environmental impact, it becomes apparent that canned water might not be the sustainable solution it's often claimed to be. This article delves into why canned water may not be as beneficial for the environment and explores other alternatives such as boxed water and carton water.

Energy-Intensive Production Process

The production process for aluminium cans, used for canned water, is highly energy intensive. Extracting and processing bauxite, the primary raw material for aluminium, requires a significant amount of energy, often sourced from fossil fuels. This process releases a considerable amount of greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. In contrast, options like boxed water or carton water use materials like cardboard, which have a lower carbon footprint in their production.

High Recycling Energy

While aluminium is 100% recyclable and can be recycled indefinitely without loss of quality, the recycling process itself is energy intensive. Recycling aluminium cans requires a lot of energy, primarily electric power, to melt down the cans. This energy consumption can negate some of the environmental benefits of recycling.

Limited Recycling Infrastructure

Despite aluminium’s recyclability, the reality is that a significant portion of aluminium cans end up in landfills. The recycling rate for aluminium cans is far from perfect, and the lack of adequate recycling infrastructure contributes to this inefficiency. In contrast, alternative packaging like boxed spring water or plant-based containers often have a better track record in recycling, partly due to the ease of processing materials like cardboard.

Transportation and Carbon Footprint

The transportation of canned water can have a significant environmental impact. Aluminium cans are heavier than other packaging alternatives like boxed water or carton water, leading to higher fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during transportation. This is particularly concerning when the water source is far from the point of consumption.

Water Source Sustainability

The sustainability of canned water is not just about the packaging; it's also about the source of the water itself. Many canned water brands source their water from natural springs, but not all of these sources are sustainable. Over-extraction can lead to depletion of local water resources and ecological imbalance. In comparison, some boxed water brands emphasise sustainable water sourcing, ensuring minimal impact on local ecosystems.

Consumer Perception and Usage

The marketing of canned water as an eco-friendly option can lead to increased consumption, with consumers perceiving it as a guilt-free choice. However, this can exacerbate environmental problems if recycling is not done properly. On the other hand, products like boxed spring water often come with clear environmental messaging, encouraging responsible consumption and disposal.

Cost and Accessibility Issues

Canned water is often more expensive than its plastic or boxed counterparts, making it less accessible to a wide range of consumers. This cost factor can limit its adoption and potential positive environmental impact. Boxed water or carton water, in many cases, provides a more cost-effective and equally sustainable alternative.

Alternatives to Canned Water

Considering the drawbacks of canned water, consumers looking for sustainable hydration options might consider alternatives. Boxed water and carton water are excellent choices. These options use materials that are more sustainable to produce, easier to recycle, and have a lower carbon footprint in transportation. Additionally, some boxed water brands use plant-based materials, adding to their environmental appeal.

The Role of Water Brands in Sustainability

Water brands have a responsibility to promote sustainability, not just in their packaging but in their entire supply chain. Brands that offer boxed spring water or natural spring water in eco-friendly packaging are leading the way in reducing environmental impact. Consumers should support these brands and encourage more companies to follow suit.

Consumer Action and Awareness

Finally, consumer awareness and action play a crucial role in environmental sustainability. By choosing sustainable products like boxed water or carton water, and by recycling properly, consumers can make a significant difference. Educating oneself and others about the environmental impacts of different packaging types is crucial in making informed decisions.


While canned water may seem like a sustainable choice, its environmental impact is more complex than it appears. The energy-intensive production and recycling processes, coupled with challenges in recycling infrastructure and transportation emissions, indicate that it's not be the best option for the environment. Alternatives like boxed water/carton water offer a more holistic approach to reducing our environmental footprint. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, it's important to critically evaluate the true impact of our choices and support brands that prioritise sustainability in a comprehensive manner.

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