Community efforts recognized on America Recycles Day with Recycling Champions Award

International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE | November 15, 2017

Community efforts recognized on America Recycles Day with Recycling Champions Award

Alexandria, VA – Today is America Recycles Day and the bottled water industry is taking this opportunity to recognize people and organizations that promote the importance of recycling plastic bottled water containers.

“The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is honoring individuals and groups that have demonstrated a passion for recycling empty bottled water containers in their communities with its inaugural Recycling Champions Award,” said Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications.

“PET plastic, which is used to make the vast majority of small-package bottled water containers (half-liter/16.9 oz.) is the most commonly recycled plastic in the world. More than 2 billion pounds of PET plastic were recycled alone in 2015, according to the National Association of PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)“The recipients of IBWA’s Recycling Champions award understand the importance of recycling plastic bottled water containers, and have demonstrated outstanding efforts in recycling and creating awareness in their communities.

This year’s winners are:

Janay Young, of Flint, MI

Janay is the creator of the Mission Protect Flint Project, an effort she began on her own after being inspired to take action to collect empty water bottles around the Flint community after the city’s lead-contaminated tap water crisis began in 2014. She has asked community members to donate their time to inform citizens about collecting PET plastic bottles and she collects them at curbside locations and delivers them to a recycling facility. She even rented a moving truck with her own money to collect empty PET bottles weekly from curbside locations; she collected approximately 20,000 bottles per week. Janay has since been receiving assistance from the city and others in the community to collect empty bottles.

“It feels awesome,” said Janay on receiving the award. “I thought my work was going unnoticed, but I knew I was making a positive impact on my city, and I’m going to continue to do that. It’s a blessing.

“When my city’s water crisis began I was looking around each day and on trash day, we just had bottles laying everywhere all over the city. No matter where I went – east side, north, south – there were bottles everywhere, so I just came up with the idea to bring awareness to Flint residents on recycling.”

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), of Fairfax County, VA
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS has established the FCPS Get2Green program to promote student learning and action within their surrounding environment. The district promotes a single-stream recycling system and provides recycling bins and cans for schools. The recycling program doesn’t solely promote PET; it focuses on other plastics, cans, paper, metal, and glass. The program has also provided district schools with resources describing what kinds of items should be recycled, and what’s considered waste, which in Fairfax County is incinerated to generate power.

Each winner will receive a cash award of $500, in addition to an award certificate.

About the Award Sponsors

Culligan Water – Flint, MI sponsored Janay Young

Culligan Water of Flint is a local leader in residential and commercial water filtration technologies with a line of products including the world’s most efficient water softener, advanced drinking water systems, and purified bottled water for home and office use. Having been in the Flint community for many decades, Culligan has improved the quality of life for countless families.

“Recently, of course, the residents of Flint have had a terrible lead crisis to deal with. Culligan responded by donating thousands of bottles of water and filters to support area residents’ need for safe drinking water. The crisis had a national impact increasing the awareness of water quality issues, as well as the importance of water testing,” said David G. Miller, Vice President – Culligan Water of Flint.

“Culligan Water of Flint is very pleased to recognize and support the work of those taking action to educate people about the value of recycling their empty containers. This a great example of the positive impact individuals can have in the community.”

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) – Alexandria, VA sponsored the Fairfax County Public Schools

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.

IBWA and its members are continually working hard to educate consumers about the importance of recycling empty bottled water containers. All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable – even the cap. Post-consumer PET plastic is easy to recycle and is used to make new containers and consumer products.

The amount of materials used to make PET and high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, and glass bottled water containers has been reduced by 42.8 percent between 2007 and 2015, according to a new study: “The Quantis Life Cycle Inventory and Environmental Footprint of Bottled Water for the North American Market.” The total grams of bottle material per gallon of bottled water (excluding labels and caps) has been reduced from 129 grams in 2007 to just 73.9 grams in 2015.

“The environmentally aware actions of bottled water companies, such as light-weighting our containers, using more recycled PET (rPET) in bottle production, and increasing curbside recycling rates, have impacted the environmental footprint of the industry in a positive way,” said Culora.

“Bottled water is America’s favorite packaged drink, and it also has the least impact on the environment compared to other packaged beverages.”

Americans are making greater efforts to live a better lifestyle by choosing healthier foods and beverages. Drinking water – tap, bottled, or filtered – should therefore be encouraged. With the high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in our on-the-go society, bottled water provides a safe, healthy, convenient packaged beverage choice. Moreover, bottled water has a smaller environmental footprint than other less healthy sugary beverages, which use more water to make, are packaged in heavier plastic containers, are not calorie-free, and have flavorings, caffeine, and other additives that people often want to avoid consuming. Any actions that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public interest.

IBWA supports strong community recycling initiatives and recognizes that a continued focus on increased recycling is important for everyone. In addition, bottled water containers are the most common item in curbside recycling programs, recycled at a rate of 53.1 percent. And the industry is always looking for ways to strengthen existing recycling programs and help to expand recycling efforts ever further. However, even when they are not properly recycled, PET plastic bottled water containers make up only 3.3 percent of all drink packaging in U.S. landfills, where as plastic soda containers make up 13.3 percent.

In its efforts to increase recycling rates, IBWA is active in helping improve access to curbside recycling bins through its involvement with The Recycling Partnership — a national recycling nonprofit organization comprised of industries and municipalities — with a goal of making a measurable impact on recycling in the United States. IBWA is also a member of three regional recycling groups: the Florida Recycling Partnership, the Michigan Recycling Partnership, and the Northeast Recycling Council.

Bottled water also has the lowest water- and energy-use ratios of all packaged beverages. On average, it takes only 1.32 liters of water to produce 1 liter of finished bottled water (including the liter of water consumed), which is the lowest water-use ratio of any packaged beverage product. And on average, only 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce 1 liter of bottle of water.

Continual light-weighting of PET bottled water plastic 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 soda and other drink 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 resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.


Media Contact:
Jill Culora

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.