Bad call on plastics at Denver Nuggets’ home opener

The Phoenix Suns one-point overtime loss (108-107) to the Denver Nuggets in the Oct. 25 Nuggets’ home opener wasn’t the only disappointment I felt. My other frustration came from finding out that the Pepsi Center in Denver has kicked plastic drink cups to the curb in favor of aluminum cups. Ball Corp. (Denver) and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) LLC debuted Ball’s “infinitely recyclable aluminum cup” at the Nuggets/Suns game. A public relations announcement from the NBA said that the change from plastic drink cups to aluminum was made “in response to growing consumer preference for more-sustainable products.”

Denver Nuggets' mascot holds aluminum cup
Rocky, the Denver Nuggets' mascot, holds Ball Corp.'s "infinitely recyclable aluminum cup.”

Actually, I doubt that consumers begged for aluminum drinking cups. I can just imagine holding on to an ice-filled drink in an aluminum cup for 30 minutes. Gloves might be needed to prevent frost bite. Additionally, if consumers really knew the science and production methods for aluminum, they might not be so thrilled to exchange plastic cups for the alternative.

Ball Chairman, President and CEO John A. Hayes commented: “We’re proud to team up with KSE to bring sports fans at Pepsi Center a sustainable beverage cup option and grow this offering across sports venues in the U.S. As a premier sports and entertainment destination in Denver, Pepsi Center is making a meaningful difference on promoting sustainability in its industry. At Ball, we’ve seen lots of excitement for the aluminum cup since launch, and we look forward to NBA [and] NHL . . . fans in Denver experiencing them for the first time.”

Well, maybe those fans are not aware of the many studies comparing the various materials used in drinking cups. David Evans did what he called “an honest comparison” of plastic, glass and aluminum cups, single use vs. reusable, on his blog at Tern Goods, a company that produces reusable alternatives to single-use plastics.

Evans correctly notes that when it comes to making comparisons, blanket statements don’t work so well. Different types of cups made from different materials have “varying impacts,” but then “so do their reusable counterparts.” Additionally, it all depends on the environmental impact you’re focusing on: “energy use, natural resource use, pollution and emissions, are just a few of the different areas you can compare. To be fair, you have to consider the complete environmental impact of disposable vs. reusable, not just one aspect.”

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