You Do The Math - Soda Stream vs. 12 packs vs. 2 liter bottles
No doubt you've seen the ads recently for Soda Stream, a nifty product that uses only 3 little pushes on a button to make your own soda water, wich you mix with any of dozens of flavor packets, from "Cola Free" to "Dr. Pete" to many more rip-offs of famous brand names. There are even lemonades and an energy drink. And the diet versions are made with Splenda, hence the photo below of Diet Coke with Splenda.
The selling point is that this product saves money, and you don't have to recycle cans or bottles or cardboard, or not, thus filling the world with garbage. Well, the recycling is my favorite part of buying a 12 pack of soda, because alminum prices are quite high.
Let's see if recycling aluminum makes the Soda Stream a more costly way to drink pop. After a visit to Bed, Bath and Beyond, I see that the Soda Stream uses a rather large CO2 bottle to make its fizz. It's almost as big as the CO2 bottle on a paint ball gun (don't get any ideas, boys) (ok, fine, get your ideas, they oughta be fun). Anyway... the CO2 bttle is refilled for $15 (so no trash to deal with here) and makes 60 liters of pop. Each flavor package costs $5 and makes 12 liters of pop. So, 5 flavor packets make 60 liters of pop.
CO2 + 5 flavor packets = 60 L of pop
$15 + (5 * $5) = 60 L
$15 + $25 = 60 L
$40 = 60 L
How about a 2 liter bottle of pop? I saw them on sale for $1.50 a few days ago, late May of 2012.
30 * 2 liters = 60 L of pop
30 * $1.50 = 60 L
$45 = 60 L
And you can buy three 12 packs on sale for $10.
$10 = 3 * 12 pack
$10 = 3 * 4.26 liters
$10/3 = 4.26 liters
$10/3 * 60/4.26 = 4.26 liters * 60/4.26
$46.95 = 60 L
Now for the original purchase price of $100. There's a mail-in rebate of $10, so the net cost is $90. With this you get 1 bottle of CO2 good for 60 liters of pop. You also get 12 flavor packs, good for 144 liters of pop.
1 CO2 bottle + 12 flavor packs = $90 - X
60 liters + 144 liters = $90 - X
60 liters + (60 + 84) liters = $90 - X
(60 + 60) liters + 84 liters = $90 - X
$15 + $25 + 7 packs = $90 - X
$40 + $35 = $90 - X
$75 = $90 - X
$15 = X
Therefore, you are spending $15 on the Soda Stream device, which comes with a plastic bottle to hold your pop. How long will it take to recoup this $15 loss if you save either $5 or $6.95?
$15 / $5 = 3
$15 / $6.95 = 2.16
However, this is 2 or 3 TIMES 60 liters.
3 * 60 liters / 2 liter bottle = 90 bottles
2.16 * 60 liters / 4.26 liters per 12 pack = 30.4 twelve packs
So, if you drink a can of pop a day, or 355 milliliters, that's 365 times 0.355 = 129.6 liters per year.
90 bottles * 2 liters/bottle / 129.6 liters/year = 1.39 years
30.4 twelve packs * 4.26 liters/12 pack / 129.6 liters/year = 0.9992 years
This comes to 16 months and 20 days for the 2 liter bottles, and 11 months, 29 days and 17 hours for the 12 packs.
It costs extra money to make special trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond. And it SAVES money to make special trips to the recycler to return the aluminum cans, because aluminum costs 6 or 7 times more than steel nowadays. (It used to costs 10 times more, but steel has come up in price.)
I weighed the cans without the pull tabs, which go to fight breast cancer, somehow, so I've been saving them since my aunt became a survivor and told us about the pull tab deal. Two cans weighed an ounce, and 8 cans weighed 4 ounces, so I'm guessing 32 cans make 16 ounces, a full pound. The metal recycling center will pay anywhere from 30 cents to 70 cents for a pound, and lately the price has been bouncing between 60 cents and 70 cents.
60 liters / 4.26 liters * 12 cans / 32 cans-per-pound = 5.28 pounds per 60 liters of pop
5.28 pounds * $0.70 per pound = $3.70
5.28 pounds * $0.70 per pound = $3.17
So, you want to buy 12 packs when the price is low, and recycle the cans when the price of aluminum goes up. This is EXACTLY how you should play the stock market. Buy low, sell high. Duh.
What about the cost to drive to the recycler? If you car costs you 60 cents a mile, including insurance, the original sale price, fuel and maintenance, and the round trip to the recycler is 20 miles, then the trip costs $12. You had better save up a LOT of cans and fill the car. And you better crush them to make room. A large, green, outdoor garbage bag of crushed cans weighs 11 pounds, with room to tie a knot in the top, Put four of those in your back seat, and...
4 bags/trip * 11 pounds/bag * $0.70 / pound = $30.80 / trip
20 miles/trip * $0.60/miles = $20 / trip
Net = $30.80 - $20.00 = $10.80
However, how many liters of pop is 44 pounds of aluminum?
44 pounds * 32 cans / pound = 1408 cans
1408 cans / 12 cans *4.26 liters/12 pack = 117.33 twelve packs * 4.26 liters/12 pack = 499.84 liters
499.84 liters / 60 liters = 8.33
Therefore, 8.33 refills on the CO2 bottle (saving you $3.25 each time) offset one trip to the recycler (netting you $10.80).
8.33 * $3.25 = $27.08
$27.08 - $10,80 = $16.28
So, the Soda Stream saves you $16,28 for every 117.33 twelve packs, or about 14 cents per 12 pack. Lame.
However, there's a cost to driving to Bed, Bath and Beyond to refill the bottle 8 times. So far, it looks like Meijer is the only grocery store to sell the Soda Stream, so for most of us, and for rural folks, there are extra trips involved (or shipping costs). It's not like you make special trips to the grocery store just to buy pop, is it? But, now you'll have to make special trips to buy CO2 bottles and flavor packs. Let's say that the trips are only 10 miles round trip for us city folks, because there are over a dozen stores carrying the product.
10 miles/trip * $0.60/mile * 8.33 trips = $49.48
Therefore, the above savings of $16.28 MINUS the cost of $49.48 is a net loss of $33.70!!!! This loss is spread out over 117.33 twelve packs, so that comes to an extra 42 cents per 12 pack. So, buying the 12 pack on sale for $10 lowered the cost to $3.33 per 12 pack. The Soda Stream costs you $3.33 + $0.42 = $3.75 per "12 pack", or 4.26 liters.
The normal price of $3.99 per 12 pack actually costs you 24 cents more than the Soda Stream. How many times do you need to save a quarter before it makes up for the original purchase price of the soda Stream? More on that at the end.
You smart folks are saying, "Hey, how about buying 8 bottles of CO2 at one time, thus cutting those 8 trips to B B & B down to 1 trip?" Well, smarty pants..... buying a full bottle costs $25, not the $15 for a refill. Subtract the 1 bottle you get with the Soda Stream device, you only have to buy 7 extra bottles. That's $70 extra dollars. But, it eliminates 7 trips to B B & B,
10 miles/trip * $0.60/mile * 1 trip = $6.00
$6 + $70 = $76.00
So, now instead of costing you 50 bucks, it costs you 76 bucks!! And $16.28 in savings MINUS $76 in costs is a net loss of $59.72!! Divided by 117.33 twelve packs, the loss is 51 cents per 12 pack. So, that $3.33 sale price plus 51 cents comes to $3.84 per "12 pack", or 4.26 liters. This is still 15 cents cheaper than the normal price of $3.99.
Keeping in mind that you are spending $15 extra on the Soda Stream device, how long will it take to recoup this $15 expenditure if you save either 24 cents or 15 cents?
$15 / $0.24 = 62.5 twelve packs
$15 / $0.15 = 100 twelve packs
If you drink a can a day,
(62.5 twelve packs * 12 cans) / (365 cans/year) = 2.06 years
(100 twelve packs * 12 cans) / (365 cans/year) = 3.28 years
We're talking upwards of 3 years and 3 months to recoup the initial purchase price, including the driving to the recycler and to Bed, Bath and Beond. Let's pray that the local grocery store starts selling the Soda Stream, thus eliminating the extra driving.