Bottled water industry encourages recycling and use of recycled plastic
The bottled water industry celebrated Earth Day by showcasing its efforts and dedication to protecting the environment and our natural resources.
“In keeping with this year’s Earth Day theme of ‘Trees for the Earth,’ members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) are continuing their sustainable industry focus through numerous environmental impact-reduction efforts, which are built on a foundation of sound science,” says Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for IBWA.
“The bottled water industry is a strong supporter of our environment and our natural resources. In fact, a life-cycle assessment conducted by Quantis International (quantis-intl.com) shows bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage. Key findings of this study show that bottled water is the most environmentally responsible packaged drink choice.”
“From how we responsibly manage water resources to investing in new LEED certified facilities, to promoting increased recycling of all plastics, the bottled water industry is taking a broad-based approach to being good stewards of the environment.”
Even with continuing growth and increased consumption, bottled water still has the smallest water and energy use footprint of any packaged beverage. A study by Antea (anteagroup.com) shows that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages. On average, only 1.32 liters of water (including the liter of water consumed) and 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water.
The bottled water industry is focused on helping people lead healthier lives and make environmentally friendly lifestyle choices. Here are some more examples of how we are working to reduce our environmental footprint and support the communities in which we all live and work.
- One of the single most effective and impactful ways that people can make a difference in their own lives is to recycle – all bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable.
- IBWA recently joined forces with The Recycling Partnership, an innovative industry collaboration focused on systematically and measurably improving curbside recycling in the United States. Last year alone, The Partnership leveraged $11 million of new recycling infrastructure including the delivery of 165,000 recycling carts.
- Recycling is important to many communities’ bottom line. More than 70 percent of what Americans throw in the trash is actually recyclable. And cities and towns end up paying $6.7 billion each year in landfill dumping fees; but we don't need to. If we just recycled more often, our towns and cities could save an astonishing $4.6 billion each year.
- 3- and 5-gallon plastic bottled water containers are returned to the plant, sanitized, and then re-used 30-50 times before they are removed from the market and recycled.
- Making PET plastic bottles from recycled plastic (rPET) uses 84 percent less energy than those made from virgin material. It also saves more than $8 million in landfill dumping fees every year. While bottled water is just one of thousands of consumer items packaged in plastic, many bottled water companies already use bottles made from 50, 75, and in some cases, 100 percent rPET.
- And, PET plastic bottled water bottles already use less plastic than any other packaged beverage.
- According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container declined 51 percent. This resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.
- PET plastic bottled water containers, measured in tons of landfill space, make up just 3.3 percent of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. This helpful infographic puts that small figure into context, showing that the waste percentage numbers are much higher for the glass (66.7 percent), aluminum (7.9 percent), and plastic soda bottles (13.3 percent) that end up in landfills.
“The bottled water industry supports strong community recycling initiatives and recognizes that a continued focus on increased recycling is important for everyone,” says Hogan. “While the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled in the last 10 years and they are the most frequently recycled PET beverage containers in curbside recycling programs, we are always looking for ways to strengthen existing programs and help to expand recycling efforts of all plastics ever further.”
To encourage a comprehensive approach to effective recycling, IBWA developed its Material Recovery Program (MRP), a collaborative joint venture between businesses and government. The MRP supports the development of new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in U.S. communities by having all consumer product companies, including bottled water, work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste education and collection efforts for all packaged goods.