55% of UK consumers would buy water on-the-go in cans, once aware of recyclability, survey finds

55% of UK consumers would buy water on-the-go in cans, once aware of recyclability, survey finds

Tue, 13 Oct 2020

Aluminium cans emerge as sustainable alternative of choice, when tap water and reusable containers not available

- UK bottled water sales of 4bn litres per year (1)
- Survey identifies opportunity for brands to meet customer sustainability demands
- Younger consumers in particular open to buying water in cans when on-the-go
- 79% believe companies should reconsider approach to packaging, post Covid-19
- 38m plastic bottles are used each day in the UK; only 22m are collected for recycling with much fewer actually processed into new goods (2)
- 7.7 billion plastic water bottles used each year; average person in the UK uses 150 plastic water bottles every year (3)
- Plastic water bottles alone represent c.55% of total plastic bottles used per year in the UK (14 billion)

Luton, UK: 13 October 2020 - British consumers increasingly support the idea of buying drinking water in aluminium (‘aluminum’) cans for on-the-go purchases, a new survey has revealed. The YouGov poll, commissioned by Ball Corporation (‘Ball’), the world’s leading producer of aluminium cans, questioned British consumer attitudes to on-the-go water purchases and found there is a growing thirst for retailers, and food and beverage outlets to sell water in cans.
The survey indicates that the Covid-19 outbreak is affecting consumer expectations and consumption patterns, with 79% of the 2,000+ UK adults polled agreeing that “As businesses return to usual, this is a valuable opportunity for retailers and brands to reconsider their approach to packaging”. And 75% indicate that “Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, (they) now feel that it is more important that retailers and brands consider the environment”.
Higher levels of home-working, fewer UK commuters, and restrictions on events will negatively impact domestic sales of on-the-go water. But when current work and leisure habits stabilise, the sustainability of consumer choices has an opportunity to reshape what was a £3bn market in 2019 (4). 
Plastic bottles are currently by far the most commonly purchased on-the-go water package in the UK: three-quarters (73%) of the UK adults surveyed have purchased water in a plastic bottle, compared to only 8% for aluminium cans; for regular purchasers of on-the-go water, 90% said they regularly bought water in a plastic bottle. The ready availability of water in plastic bottles (38%) and a lack of packaging alternatives (42%) were cited as the most popular reasons for these purchasing decisions. 
The study indicates that UK consumers would be much more willing to purchase water in can when supplied with the correct facts about aluminium recyclability and recycling rates. Just over half of adults (53%) are aware that aluminium is infinitely recyclable, whereas just less than half (47%) are aware that aluminium cans are the most widely recycled type of drinks container. 55% of adults said they would be more likely to buy water in a can if they knew that the can is infinitely recyclable.
The YouGov data indicates that water in cans has not yet been widely available and so relatively few consumers have encountered such products. The polls results shows that younger consumers would be more willing to buy water in cans, with 25-34-year olds (51%) the most likely age group to do so, compared to 21% of those aged over 55.
Ana Neale, Director, Marketing and Strategic Planning, Ball Corporation, said: “The results of this survey indicate that once there is awareness of recyclability and availability, younger age groups, especially, will choose packaged water in cans. Just as we’ve seen in other beverages, we expect more and more brands to offer on-the-go water of all types in cans, which is good news for new and existing entrants to the category, and for the development of a truly circular economy.”
Aluminium packaging has emerged as a major competitor to the most common water packaging substrates. New brands across a range of water categories are embracing the sustainability advantages of the aluminium can, with an increasing number of brands in water.
CanO Water, who launched in 2015 and sold over 10 million of their canned waters in 2019, has achieved listings in national accounts such as Tesco, Morrisons, WHSmith, Compass & Sodexo. Other notable UK canned water brands include Llanllyr SOURCE, and new entrant The Whent.
Ariel Booker, Co-Founder, CanO Water commented: “It’s really exciting for us to see an increase in consumer awareness around the recyclability benefits of aluminium cans. Disruptive brands like CanO Water have worked hard to educate our audience and in times like these we all need to be aware of the small changes we can make to positively impact our planet. We encourage more brands and consumers to make the switch!”
John Wallington, Director, Llanllyr SOURCE commented: “We’re extremely proud of our premium Welsh spring water and have always taken responsibility to the natural environment very seriously. Aluminium cans enable us to offer our customers a refined drinking experience, safe in the knowledge that they can drop empties into a recycling bin and be back on the shelf in as little as 60 days.”
Martin Clark, Co-Founder, The Whent commented: "Launching our new canned water brand in aluminium was the obvious choice for us. People understand the sustainable and environmental benefits of aluminium, over other materials, and know that it will actually be recycled once collected. We’re also working on resealable aluminium options."
Hannes Tack, Chief Executive, Rhodius, a leading European co-packer (filler) commented:  “Filling water is complex, with very low tolerances but once established, cans are rapidly and efficiently filled. From the interest we’ve had from customers around Europe, we’re confident that this is a category that will only get stronger.”
Aluminium cans are now the fastest growing beverage package type across all categories for new product launches in the UK and Ireland with 33% in August, a rise of 3% from this time in 2019 (5).
Across the world, only 9 percent of all the plastic ever made has been recycled; by contrast, 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in circulation (6) and 76% of aluminium cans consumed in the UK are currently recycled (7).
About Ball Corporation
Ball Corporation supplies innovative, sustainable aluminium packaging solutions for beverage, personal care and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 18,300 people worldwide and reported 2019 net sales of $11.5 billion. For more information, visit, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information about Ball's ongoing sustainability efforts, please visit
About the Study
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,119 UK adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th and 29th July 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains "forward-looking" statements concerning future events and financial performance. Words such as "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "believes," "targets," "likely," "positions" and similar expressions typically identify forward-looking statements, which are generally any statements other than statements of historical fact. Such statements are based on current expectations or views of the future and are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied. You should therefore not place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements and any such statements should be read in conjunction with, and, qualified in their entirety by, the cautionary statements referenced below. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Key factors, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual outcomes and results to be different are summarized in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Exhibit 99 in our Form 10-K, which are available on our website and at Additional factors that might affect: a) our packaging segments include product capacity, supply, and demand constraints and fluctuations, including due to virus and disease outbreaks and responses thereto; availability/cost of raw materials, equipment, and logistics; competitive packaging, pricing and substitution; changes in climate and weather; footprint adjustments and other manufacturing changes, including the startup of new facilities and lines; failure to achieve synergies, productivity improvements or cost reductions; mandatory deposit or other restrictive packaging laws; customer and supplier consolidation; power and supply chain interruptions; potential delays and tariffs related to the U.K’s departure from the EU; changes in major customer or supplier contracts or a loss of a major customer or supplier; political instability and sanctions; currency controls; changes in foreign exchange or tax rates; and tariffs, trade actions, or other governmental actions, including business restrictions and shelter-in-place orders in any country or jurisdiction affecting goods produced by us or in our supply chain, including imported raw materials, such as those related to COVID-19 and those pursuant to Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act of 1962 or Section 301 of Trade Act of 1974; b) our aerospace segment include funding, authorization, availability and returns of government and commercial contracts; and delays, extensions and technical uncertainties affecting segment contracts; c) the company as a whole include those listed plus: the extent to which sustainability-related opportunities arise and can be capitalized upon; changes in senior management, succession, and the ability to attract and retain skilled labor; regulatory action or issues including tax, environmental, health and workplace safety, including U.S. FDA and other actions or public concerns affecting products filled in our containers, or chemicals or substances used in raw materials or in the manufacturing process; technological developments and innovations; the ability to manage cyber threats and the success of information technology initiatives; litigation; strikes; disease; pandemic; labor cost changes; rates of return on assets of the Company's defined benefit retirement plans; pension changes; uncertainties surrounding geopolitical events and governmental policies both in the U.S. and in other countries, including policies, orders and actions related to COVID-19, the U.S. government elections, stimulus package(s), budget, sequestration and debt limit; reduced cash flow; interest rates affecting our debt; and successful or unsuccessful joint ventures, acquisitions and divestitures, and their effects on our operating results and business generally.



(2) Source: Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2019
(3) Water UK (2018), trade association which represents the major water companies of the UK
(4) Source:
(5) Source: Mintel New Product Launches (50cl and below), YTD August  2020 vs YTD August 2019. Data incl. UK and Ireland.
(6) The Aluminium Association (2017)