Bottled Water Container Recycling Rate Increases 32%

International Bottled Water Association | IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 11, 2009

Bottled Water Container Recycling Rate Increases 32%

ALEXANDRIA, VA — The national recycling rate for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottled water containers (.5 liter or 16.9 ounce) now stands at 30.9% for 2008, an improvement of 32% over the 2007 rate, according to two new studies by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR):  2008 Post Consumer PET Bottle Bale Composition Analysis and 2008 Report on PET Water Bottle Recycling.

“This big improvement in bottled water container recycling over the 30% mark, while encouraging, reminds us that still more needs to be done,” said Tom Lauria, Vice President of Communications at the International Bottled Water Association.

The 2007 NAPCOR study on water bottle recycling showed the recycling rate for water bottles was 23.4%, representing a 16.42% increase over the 2006 recycling rate of 20.1%.

The 2008 studies examined post-consumer PET bottle bales in 15 locations in 14 states, and the analysis found:  “NAPCOR determined that the total number of pounds of PET bottles and jars available in the United States for recycling in 2008 was 5.366 billion. This number reflects the total amount of PET bottle resin used by U.S. bottle manufacturers from U.S., foreign, and recycled sources, less scrap generated and not reused, exported bottles and pre-forms, and bottles less than eight ounces in size.

Average Gram Weight per Bottle Declined by 26.7% Over Past Seven Years

In tandem with the new NAPCOR studies, the IBWA has tracked the average amount of plastic used in .5 liter (16.9 ounce) PET bottles, using published data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) to determine a light-weighting trend in the bottled water industry. In the year 2000, the average weight of a plastic water bottle was 18.9 grams and since then has declined consistently on an annual basis.  In 2007 (the last year BMC has complete data) the average weight of a PET water bottle was 13.83 grams, which represents a plastic decrease of 26.7%. This light-weighting trend is steadily continuing as some bottled water brands introduce consumers to a 10.0 gram PET bottle.

“Bottle weight is swiftly tumbling downward as recycling rates for bottled water containers have risen sharply,” said Mr. Lauria. “It is very clear that the bottled water industry is consistently heading in the right direction year after year, while delivering the convenience, safety and refreshing hydration that made bottled water so popular in the first place.”


Tom Lauria
(703) 647-4609

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. Founded in 1958, IBWA’s membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.  

In addition to FDA regulations, IBWA member bottlers must adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is a mandatory annual plant inspection by an independent, third-party organization.  

IBWA is proud to be a partner with Keep America Beautiful and a supporter of Drink Up, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which encourages Americans to drink more water more often – whether from the tap, a filter, or in a bottle. Choosing water is always the healthy choice.