International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE |April 22, 2021
Consumers are reminded to maintain or begin good recycling habits on Earth Day to help sustain our environment
Alexandria, VA – As we commemorate this year’s Earth Day and its theme, “Restore Our Earth,” the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is reminding consumers that if we each do our part and recycle, together we can improve the quality of our environment and decrease our use of virgin materials in all recyclable product packaging, including bottled water.
Establishing good recycling habits begins at home. And with people staying at home more during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce spending skyrocketed to $861 billion in 2020, up 44 percent from $598 billion in 2019, according to Digital Commerce 360. That means consumers are having their purchases shipped directly to their homes via a delivery service—and much of that shipping and product packaging is recyclable. It is important for consumers to properly dispose of all recyclables, including bottled water containers, which should be emptied and the caps replaced before you put them in the recycling bin.
“During the pandemic, collecting recycled bottled water containers remains a high priority for the bottled water industry,” says IBWA Vice President of Communications Jill Culora. “Empty plastic bottles made from PET and HDPE are highly valuable, as they can be recycled again and again into new products.”
Bottled water companies have for many years been voluntarily increasing their use of recycled PET (rPET) and recycled HDPE (rHDPE) in plastic containers. In addition to the many food and beverage companies that have made public pledges to use more recycled content, some legislators are working to implement recycled content mandates. To meet these goals and requirements, consumer access to, and participation in, recycling programs must grow to help increase the supply of recycled content material. “Improving plastic waste collection is essential not just for bottled water, but for the many other industries that use recycled plastic,” Culora says. “Using recycled plastic can drastically reduce the amount of virgin plastic that is introduced into the marketplace.”
PET bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable. In addition, bottled water bottles use less plastic than any other plastic beverage container. The average 16.9 ounce (half-liter) PET bottled water bottle weighs 9.25 grams per container, compared to the heavier (read: uses more plastic) 16.9 ounce PET soft drink bottle that weighs 23.9 grams. Soft drink bottles need to be thicker due to carbonation and other processes. Making a water bottle from rPET uses 84 percent less energy than manufacturing a bottle from virgin PET.
An American Chemistry Council (ACC) report (Life Cycle Impacts of Plastic Packaging Compared to Substitutes in the United States and Canada) showed that PET plastic containers have the least environmental impact compared to other packaging materials such as cans, cartons, and glass. The report found that those alternatives produce about 60 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than plastic beverage containers.
“It’s important for all of us to be thoughtful about how we manage recyclable packaging—of all types—because of the environmental benefits,” says Culora. “If you normally recycle, it’s important to keep up those good recycling habits—and if recycling is new to you, learn all you can about why we all need to recycle and place all of your recyclables in the bin.”
IBWA is active in helping to improve curbside recycling access through its involvement with organizations such as Keep America Beautiful and The Recycling Partnership, with a shared goal of making a measurable impact on improving recycling rates in the United States.
“IBWA encourages all consumers to choose bottled water as their preferred packaged beverage as part of a healthy lifestyle. And always recycle your empty plastic containers with the caps on,” says Culora. “The bottled water industry continues to be committed to making more sustainable product packaging to lessen the impact on the environment. If we each do our part, we can help reduce concerns about the health of our planet in the long-run.”
IBWA invites consumers to listen to the H2O in the Know podcast episode, “Why the focus should be on plastic waste, not plastic,” to learn about plastics in our environment—and then test your new knowledge by taking this quiz: What do you know about plastic pollution?
Additional information about bottled water and recycling can be found on IBWA’s website: www.bottledwater.org.
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.