Men don’t like eating out of cans. And I don’t like eating out of cans too much, either.”

Aretha Franklin, Musician

Advantages & Disadvantages of Cans

advantages and disadvantages of cans and canned food

Cans are used quite frequently for our beverages, for our food or for a variety of other purposes. Even though they are quite convenient and have many additional benefits, the use of cans also implies some problems.

In this article, the pros and cons of cans are examined in detail.

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Advantages of Cans & Canned Food

  1. Cans are lightweight
  2. Convenient form of drinking
  3. Convenient for storage purposes
  4. Cans are durable
  5. Long shelf life
  6. Cans cannot brake
  7. Cans can block light
  8. Faster cooling of cans
  9. Cans can preserve high levels of nutrients
  10. Production of cans is cheap
  11. Aluminum, tin and steel cans are recyclable to a certain degree
  12. Cans are rather heat-resistant

Cans are lightweight

One crucial advantage of cans is that they are quite light. This is especially beneficial when you want to go for a walk or a hike since you do not want to carry around heavy glass bottles for those kinds of activities.

It is also quite convenient to transport those cans home to your flat or your house from your local store. Thus, since cans are lightweight, they are quite easy to transport, which gives them an important advantage over other forms of packaging.

Convenient form of drinking

Cans can also be quite convenient when it comes to drinking out of them. You just need to open your can, which can be done in one second and you are good to go. It is also rather simple to dispose of your can.

You can just dispose of it in the next trash bin in order to get rid of it. However, it would be better to separate your waste at home to make your cans recyclable.

Convenient for storage purposes

Another advantage of cans is that they are quite convenient for storage purposes. You can store canned food for a quite long time in your basement and your food will still be good for consumption after a while.

Sometimes, canned food will be suitable for consumption even after many years. This makes it quite attractive to buy large quantities of those foods when they are on sale in order to save plenty of money in the long run.

Cans are durable

Another benefit of cans is that they are quite durable. Since they are made out of metals, cans will be able to resist a certain pressure.

Also if cans fall down to the floor, chances are that they will not suffer too much since they are rather robust.

Thus, especially if you are a rather clumsy person, cans may be much better for you compared to glass bottles.

Long shelf life

In general, canned food or beverages have a quite long shelf life. This means that after you bought those food times, you can store them for quite a while and they will last for a quite long time until they get bad.

This gives you a greater level of flexibility since you know you will have some food at home in case of emergency.

Cans cannot brake

Another advantage of cans is that they cannot break. If you let a glass jar or bottle fall onto the floor, chances are that it will break and cause a mess in your home.

In contrast, cans will not break that easily and you can save you plenty of cleanup time and nerves by using cans instead of items that are packaged in glass.

Cans can block light

Canned food is also protected from light. Even though light is good for us humans, it can be rather harmful to our food since it shortens the shelf life and also precious nutrients and vitamins can be destroyed.

Thus, it is crucial to protect our food from excessive light. Hence, cans are much better suitable to preserve all the precious ingredients compared to glass jars which do not protect our food from light exposure.

Faster cooling of cans

If you host a party, you want to have cold beverages for sure. However, if you only have a quite limited amount of time until your guests arrive and you still have to get some beverages from the shop, you might rely on beer cans instead of glass since cans can be cooled much faster.

Hence, your chances to cool your beverages in time will greatly increase through the use of cans.

Cans can preserve high levels of nutrients

Canned food is often also quite rich in nutrients. This is due to the fact that cans will protect our food from exposure to oxygen and also protect it against excessive light exposure.

Therefore, more of those precious nutrients and vitamins can be preserved, which may in turn translate into better overall health levels.

Production of cans is cheap

Cans are also a quite convenient packaging method for manufacturers since the process around can production have been optimized over time and it is cheap to produce cans on a large scale.

Hence, cans are also one the preferred method of food companies to package their food due to financial reasons.

Aluminum, tin and steel cans are recyclable to a certain degree

Another upside of cans is that they are recyclable to a certain degree. However, cans can only be recycled properly if you separate your waste in an effective manner.

Thus, the next time you use cans at home, make sure to separate your waste in order to make it suitable for recycling to save our natural resources as best as possible.

Cans are rather heat-resistant

Cans are also quite heat-resistant. For instance, you do not need to worry too much if you carry around your cans on hot summer days in your backpack.

While plastics may contaminate your beverage with harmful components when temperatures become too high, it is less likely that this happens with cans due to the characteristics of used metals.

Disadvantages of Canned Food & Cans

  1. Resource depletion
  2. Littering
  3. Many people will not properly separate their waste
  4. Storage in cans may affect the taste of certain foods
  5. Harmful chemicals may enter foods or drinks
  6. Preservatives may be present in canned food
  7. Air pollution
  8. Greenhouse gas emissions in the production process
  9. Production of cans implies mining activities
  10. Waste of energy
  11. More eco-friendly alternatives

Resource depletion

As we have seen before, there are numerous advantages of canned food. However, there are also some issues related to it. One downside of canned food is that it implies serious resource depletion. Cans are manufactured out of metals.

Those metals are fossil resource which will become depleted sooner or later and we have to protect our fossil natural resources as best as possible since they are crucial to solve our environmental problems and to assure sufficient technological progress.

Thus, in order to protect our environment, using cans may not be the best idea to do so.

Littering

Another problem of cans is that people often do not dispose of them properly. While it is best to dispose of the waste related to cans at home and to separate it in order to make it suitable for recycling, many people just dispose of their cans on the floor right where they stand.

Even worse, many people also dispose their cans in the middle of forests or other natural habitats, which significantly hurts the local flora and fauna.

Many people will not properly separate their waste

In order to use our natural resources as efficiently as possible, it is also crucial that everyone of us optimizes his or her recycling processes. For instance, a high fraction of the metal that is used for cans could be recycled. However, many people do not separate their waste at all and therefore, precious fossil natural resources are wasted.

Storage in cans may affect the taste of certain foods

Opponents of canned food often also claim that cans can adversely affect the taste of our food. Even though this has not been proven yet, it might be true that canned food can taste a little bit different compared to food that has been packaged in glass.

Harmful chemicals may enter foods or drinks

Another issue with cans is that harmful components may enter our food or our drinks. Although most of the cans that are used for our food are rather uncritical in our Western world, there are countries where food safety standards are rather low and cans may release harmful substances into the food or into the canned drinks.

Preservatives may be present in canned food

In some cases, also plenty of preservatives are added to the canned food in order to make it even more durable.

Long durability and shelf life of products sound good at first, however, those preservatives are not too good for our health.

Thus, it may be better to refrain from food that has been treated with plenty of preservatives from a health perspective.

Air pollution

The production of cans also implies serious levels of air pollution. Metals have to be heated in order to be shaped. However, these heating processes imply the emission of large amounts of harmful gases into our atmosphere.

In turn, the air quality may be quite poor in regions near those production plants, which may also translate into serious pulmonary issues in the long run for many people all over the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the production process

Not only the air quality will suffer due to can production processes, also our climate will be adversely affected. Due to those can production processes and the related emission of greenhouse gases into the air, can production also contributes to global warming and to the related adverse effects for our planet.

Production of cans implies mining activities

In order to produce large quantities of those cans, significant amounts of metals have to be extracted out of the ground. However, this also implies the need for mining and the adverse environmental effects related to it.

Waste of energy

In order to heat the metal in can production plants, plenty of energy has to be used. However, this energy is still mainly produced with the help of fossil fuels, which in turn also implies a contribution to global warming and air pollution.

More eco-friendly alternatives

As we have seen before, the production and the use of cans imply serious adverse environmental effects, which may potentially destroy our planet in the long run.

Thus, it might be reasonable to use more eco-friendly alternatives like glass bottles instead in order to minimize the negative adverse effects of our consumption behavior on our environment.

Top 10 Cans Pros & Cons – Summary List

Cans ProsCans Cons
Cans are lightDepletion of natural resources
Easy to storeWaste of energy
Cans are durableLittering
Canned food has a long shelf lifeAir pollution
Cans can’t brakeGreenhouse gas emissions
Can be cooled quicklyMining issue
Recyclable (at least in theory)Preservatives
Production of cans is cheapCans may alter the taste
Heat-resistanceChemicals may spread over to our food
Preservation of vitamins and nutrientsThere are more eco-friendly alternatives

Should You Use Cans?

From the previous analysis, it has become clear that the use of cans has many advantages. However, there are also many problems related to cans and canned food and we should use eco-friendlier alternatives instead in order to minimize our ecological footprint and to assure a livable future for the next generations.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_and_tin_cans

https://www.britannica.com/technology/tin-can

https://sciencing.com/tin-cans-made-5344942.html

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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