Recycling By Numbers: Plastic Bottles

“Does it really matter if I throw this water bottle in the trash or a recycling bin? There’s already so much plastic thrown away, so why does it matter where I put a single bottle?”
“What is one bottle going to do?”

These are common responses people have when they’re asked about their recycling habits. Some people think that there’s no point in recycling, since there is so much pollution and waste they don’t think that their actions will make a difference. That kind of thinking isn’t just dangerous, it’s also inaccurate. In just the United States over 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away every year, and only 18 million (less than one percent) pounds of it are recycled. If more people took recycling seriously that measly >1% could be much higher.

Some people are working hard to improve recycling rates. Alexander Bouri, the founder of the international cement trading company Seament, sits on the board of an organization that’s trying to encourage corporate recycling through incentives. Other people need to get more involved in environmental causes if we want to see major changes happen. Recycling one water bottle won’t instantly change the world, but putting that one piece of plastic on a recycling bin can have a profound affect. The next time you talk about the importance of recycling, try to remember these facts.

Consuming Resources

Now it’s more important than ever for people to consider the importance of drinking bottled water since the drink is extremely popular. It’s estimated that in the 2006 the United States produced 827,000 to 1.3 million tons of traditional plastic PET water bottles. Producing that amount of plastic would require the energy equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil. Out of the million tons of bottles that were made, 76.5% ended up in landfills.

The “Cost” of Bottled Water

Alexander Bouri was more concerned about the environmental impacts of bottled water, but almost all of you will be concerned about the price of bottled water after you find out how much it truly costs. What do you think the $1.25 you spend on a bottle of Poland Springs get used on? Maybe your money is spent on the acquisition of new water sources or possibly the water filtration process. All of these answers seem possible, but in reality the majority of that money goes towards the production of more plastic. Around 90% of the money you spend on your bottle of water finances the making of the bottles themselves, including bottling, packaging, marketing, and shipping. Essentially you spend $1.13 on a fancy bottle, and $0.12 on the actual water. The real kicker to this is that most people probably could have gotten the exact same water from your faucet since 44% of the “purified” water in the US comes from municipal water (aka-tap water).

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