International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE | April 22, 2018
Bottled water industry supports Earth Day theme: End Plastic Pollution
Alexandria, VA – Today, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) announced its strong support of this year’s Earth Day theme: End Plastic Pollution.
“Plastic pollution is a very serious concern to the bottled water industry, and our members share a responsibility with consumers in addressing this issue,” says Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “The industry’s innovative packaging has reduced the overall environmental impact and it also actively promotes recycling. It is also important for consumers to make their best efforts to help ensure that packaging is disposed of responsibly – by always recycling.”
Bottled water’s light-weighted PET packaging is 100 percent recyclable – even the caps. And PET, single-serve containers are the most recognizable recyclable container, which helps ensure that consumers do their part in helping to keep plastic out of landfills and the natural environment by putting their empty containers in recycling bins, Culora says.
Consumer efforts have paid off, as bottled water containers are the most common item in curbside recycling programs, recycled at a rate of 53.1 percent. But the bottled water industry is always looking for ways to increase recycling rates and educate the public about good recycling habits. Notably, IBWA has partnered with numerous recycling organizations such as The Recycling Partnership, Keep America Beautiful, Northeast Recycling Council, Florida Recycling Partnership, and Michigan Recycling Partnership.
“People should always make their best effort to recycle,” says Culora. “But even when bottled water containers are not properly recycled, they make up only 3.3 percent of all drink packaging in U.S. landfills. Carbonated soft drink containers make up 13.3 percent; and aluminum cans make up 7.9 percent.” See more here. < http://www.bottledwater.org/public/Packaging%20infographic%20WEB%20sm.pdf>
The main sources of plastic pollution include:
- Mismanaged waste – trash that is not landfilled (vast majority occurs in waterways in Asia. See: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/sources/)
- Littering, which ends up in waterways and on shorelines
“Littering is a human behavior issue, and we certainly support efforts to help educate consumers about the importance of recycling and respecting the environment. It’s a main reason we recently partnered with Keep America Beautiful,” Culora says.
Continual light-weighting of PET bottled water packaging has seen the average weight drop to 9.25 grams per 16.9 ounce single-serve container. That is almost one-third less than the amount of PET it takes to make carbonated soft drink and other beverage containers, which need to be thicker due to carbonation and manufacturing processes and weigh, on average, 23.9 grams. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container declined 51 percent. This has resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.
While bottled water is just one of thousands of consumer items packaged in plastic, the bottled water industry has gone to great lengths to reduce the environmental impact of its packaging, including developing new technologies in product packaging such as the use of recycled content, reduction of plastic used in caps and shrink-wrapping, and reduction of paper used in labels and shipping cardboard. IBWA member companies are increasing their use of recycled PET (rPET), and many bottled water companies already use bottles made from 50, 75, and in some cases 100 percent rPET.
“The recycling process for PET plastic bottles is easy, simple, and efficient. In fact, making new bottles from recycled bottles uses 84 percent less energy than when using virgin materials,” said Culora.
“By ALWAYS recycling empty bottled water containers, consumers are putting their used plastic bottle to good use. PET plastic is the most recycled plastic in the United States and the world. And used PET bottle can be recycled multiple times.”
Recycled PET can be used to make new bottles, along with a range of other consumer products such as food containers, toys, clothing, car parts, carpeting, and decking, to name a few, she says.
“The industry understands its role in helping to end plastic pollution, and it’s vital that consumers do too. Making a pledge to always recycle is a great first step,” Culora says. “So, the next time you quench your thirst with a refreshing bottle of water, remember: Enjoy. Empty. Replace The Cap. Then: Put It In The Bin!”
For more information about bottled water and recycling, please visit IBWA’s website.
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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.