Earth Day 2012 sees bottled water recycling and environmental improvements

International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE | April 18, 2012

Earth Day 2012 sees bottled water recycling and environmental improvements

Alexandria, VA – The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) commemorates Earth Day 2012, celebrated on April 22, by announcing solid increases in curbside recycling of PET plastic water bottle containers and an improving environmental footprint for the bottled water industry.

A newly-released study indicates that PET plastic bottled water containers are once again the single most recycled item in nationwide curbside collection programs. As of 2010, the recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers increased to 32.25 percent, more than doubling in the last six years. The study, by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), shows a welcome continuation of steady annual increases in the recycling trend for PET plastic bottled water containers.

“In keeping with this year’s Earth Day theme of ‘Mobilizing the Earth,’ IBWA supports a sustainable future built on the foundation of solid science and smart decisions,” says Chris Hogan, vice president of Communications for IBWA. “The bottled water industry is taking a broad-based approach to reducing its environmental footprint. All bottled water containers – whether plastic or glass – are 100 percent recyclable.” According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), over the past eight years the gram weight of a 16.9 ounce single-serve PET bottled water container has dropped by 32.6 percent. In addition, 3- and 5-gallon plastic bottled water containers are reused between 30-50 times before being recycled.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported plastic bottles make up less than 0.03 percent of the U.S. waste stream. NAPCOR states that 1.5 billion pounds of PET were recycled in 2010, and producing new products from recycled PET (rPET) uses two-thirds less energy than what is required to make products from raw virgin materials. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

“PET can be recycled multiple times and virtually all recycling programs in the United States accept PET containers,” says Hogan. “rPET can be made into new bottles or items such as plastic lumber for outdoor decking, playground equipment, carpeting, clothing, and car parts. In fact, according to Earth 911, the Internet’s largest online recycling education resource, recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-wattt light bulb for up to six hours.”

“To encourage a comprehensive approach to effective recycling, IBWA developed its Material Recovery Program (MRP), a collaborative joint venture between businesses and government. The MRP supports the development of new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in U.S. communities by having all consumer product companies, including bottled water, work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste education and collection efforts for all packaged goods.”

IBWA is playing an active role educating consumers about the importance of recycling, by partnering with Earth 911 ( and sponsoring its plastic bottle recycling section. IBWA is also a sponsor of the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) (, a not-for-profit organization formed to help communities grow and sustain their curbside recycling programs. CVP helps communities increase recycling participation and increase the tonnage collected in their programs, and helps them measure this growth in order to make better decisions.

“IBWA is also dedicated to the responsible management of groundwater resources. As an industry, we support comprehensive water resource management that regulates both the quality and quantity of groundwater, treats all users equitably, provides for the sustainability of the resource, and balances the interests and rights of those using this natural resource today and in the future.”

“Environmental stewardship is part of the bottled water industry’s history, and protecting, maintaining, and preserving water resources for future generations is something we take very seriously,” says Hogan. “Even though the bottled water industry’s water footprint is a small one relative to overall groundwater withdrawals – the entire United States beverage industry accounts for less than 0.03 percent of the total ground or surface water used each year – we continue to focus on improving efficiencies.”

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Media Contact:
Chris Hogan

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.