5 simple truths of how cartons are more environmentally friendly than cans

Updated 05 December 2023
Read time: 3 mins
article author
Written by Guy Blaskey


Why are cartons so much better than cans?

1. Raw materials

Whilst it’s true that cans can be made from 20-100% recycled materials, this is very far from the full story. Metal, even if recycled is a non-renewable material - there is a finite amount of metal in the world and it has to be mined, melted and more, whereas cartons are predominantly made from card, that comes from trees. TetraPak uses trees from FSC forests. Not only are forests and infinite resource, when managed them properly and trees planted to replace the ones that used, the trees (especially the young saplings planted) actively help the planet by absorbing the CO2 from processes like can manufacture.

2. Production

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture how a can is made. Imagine melting metal, forming sheets, bending metal sheets to can shapes etc etc. Just think how hard it would be (how much energy you would need to use) to change the shape of a metal can. By contrast, think about how easy it is to fold a carton. All the additional energy used comes at an environmental cost, normally the production and emissions of fossil fuels.

3. Transportation of empty packaging

When empty cans are transported, they are fully formed, and the majority of the space in the lorry is taken up by the air inside the empty cans. By contrast, empty cartons are transported flat, so the majority of the space in the lorry is taken up with the packaging, not air. This gives a 9:1 saving; Every lorry full of empty cartons is the equivalent of 9 lorries full of cans. Switching from feeding cans to cartons will mean fewer lorries on the roads, fewer emissions from those lorries, less traffic and even savings such as savings from engine and tyre wear and tear, which all add up.

4. Storage and transportation of final product.

As cans are round, they don’t fit together well, as cartons do. There is a lot of wasted air space between the cans. The space-saving switching from cans to cartons is around 40%. That’s 40% less space taken up in the lorries from the manufacturer, 40% less space taken up in warehouse storage, 40% less space taken up in distribution, 40% less space taken up in store or 40% less space taken up in the delivery service for online order, 40% less space taken up in the home.

5. Weight

An empty can weighs 127g compared to 41g for a carton. That is a huge weight saving across the life of the package. The very simple physics is that more weight means more energy to move it, and in this case, that energy will come predominantly from the fossil fuels powering the trucks carrying the products. By switching from can to cartons you are saving enough carbon emissions on weight alone to justify the choice.

There is no argument that if you switch from cans to TetraPak you are going to have less of an environmental impact. There is definitely still a job to do to improve the rates of recycling, there is a perception that cartons are not widely recycled, but TetraPak has been doing a lot of work on this. The majority of UK councils offer TetraPak recycling, you can follow the link to find out about your local council at

Pooch & Mutt launched their TetraPak cartons in May 2018 and figures to date show that customers purchasing the wet food cartons have saved the equivalent CO2 emissions of planting 100 trees this year. Based on these numbers, one dog enjoying Pooch & Mutt wet food cartons could help plant 13 trees over their average lifetime.

No one thing is going to reverse, pause, or even slow down the damage that humans have done to the environment. We will solve these problems by everyone making a lot of small changes. Changing from cans to cartons is one of those small things that can have a proportionally big impact, and that should be part of the decision-making process of any environmentally aware dog owner.

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