Consumers and industry play vital parts in keeping waste out of oceans

International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE | June 11, 2018

Consumers and industry play vital parts in keeping waste out of oceans

Alexandria, VA – The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is recognizing World Oceans Day today, June 8, by highlighting the industry’s reduction in plastic use and educating consumers about ways they can help keep waste out of our oceans and litter off our shorelines.

“Although only a very small amount of ocean waste originates as litter, this amount can be significantly reduced if industry continues its innovative efforts to lightweight its plastic bottles and consumers increase their efforts to recycle their empty bottled water containers,” says Jill Culora, IBWA vice president of communications.

World Oceans Day is an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate and honor the ocean, which connects us all, say organizers. Hundreds of events are held globally appreciating the oceans. Activities include shoreline exploration walks, coastal cleanups and boating events.

A common misperception is that bottled water plays a significant role in ocean plastic pollution, but the facts show differently. Bottled water is one of thousands of food and beverage products packaged in plastic. And in the past 10 years, the bottled water industry has achieved tremendous plastic resin reduction usage through lightweighting its containers.

“Bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable –– even the caps. We recommend people empty their bottles and replace the caps before placing them in a recycle bin,” says Culora.

“PET plastic (which is used for most small-pack bottled water products) is a valuable material and should not be wasted in landfills.”

The biggest contributor to ocean trash is mismanaged waste, which is essentially garbage that is thrown directly into rivers by countries that lack waste management systems.

Published research from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research 
identifies the largest sources of ocean plastic pollution: 90 percent of it originates from 10 major river systems in developing regions. Eight of these rivers are in Asia, and two are in Africa.

This new research by Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist, supports IBWA’s view that restricting the sale of bottled water in North America –– which has both waste management and recycling systems –– will have little or no impact on the ocean plastic issue.

Supporting research by University of Georgia Professor Jenna Jambeck found that approximately 83 percent of ocean plastic waste comes from just 20 countries, with China being the highest contributor, at 2.43 million metric tons of plastic waste per year. The United States is responsible for 0.07 million metric tons per year.

“Mismanaged waste in Asia and Africa are the biggest contributors to ocean pollution on a global scale, but at home and on-the-go, it is important for consumers to always recycle to help ensure PET plastic is reused,” says Culora.

To help combat the ocean plastics issue, IBWA is working with its partner Keep America Beautiful to educate consumers about the importance of recycling.

“On World Oceans Day, IBWA and Keep America Beautiful are working together to spread the word on how important recycling is and how we can give plastic products another life by recycling them.”

How can you help?

Always remember to “Put It In The Bin!” Consumers have the power to ensure their empty containers end up in the recycle stream—and not as litter or waste in a landfill. While research shows that litter makes up only a very small portion of ocean waste, it’s still important to do the right thing and dispose of empty bottled water containers responsibly. Single-serve PET containers are 100 percent recyclable (including the caps), and should always be placed in the recycling bin.

Littering is a human behavior issue that you can play a role in helping to end.

Useful links about ocean plastics:

Christian Schmidt Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea”

·      How China’s Garbage Goes From Cities to Rivers


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.