News | April 21, 2017

Bottled Water's Environmental Actions A Focus For Earth Day

Alexandria, VA – Actions that bottled water companies continue to take to reduce their environmental footprint are highlighted on Earth Day, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) announced today.

“We agree with the organizers of Earth Day that education is the foundation for progress, which is why IBWA is taking this opportunity to educate the public about the bottled water industry’s continued efforts to reduce the impact of its products and its dedication to protecting our environment and natural resources,” says Jill Culora, vice president of communications for IBWA.

Some of these measures include:

  • Lightweighting PET plastic packaging. With an average weight of 9.25 grams per 16.9 ounce single-serve container, bottled water uses one-third 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.
  • Reducing water used in production facilities. On average, it takes only 1.32 liters of water i to produce 1 liter of finished bottled water (including the liter of water consumed). This is the lowest water-use ratio of any packaged beverage product.
  • Using less energy. On average, only 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce 1 liter of bottle of water – the lowest amount compared to any packaged drink.
  • Providing consumers with packaging that is 100 percent recyclable (even the caps).
  • Entering into partnerships with stakeholders to educate consumers and increase recycling rates.
  • Home and office delivery 3- and 5-gallon plastic bottled water containers are returned to the plant, sanitized, and then re-used30-50 times before they are removed from the market and recycled.
  • Making PET plastic bottles from recycled plastic (rPET) – which uses 84 percent less energy to manufacture than those made from virgin material. It also saves more than $8 million in landfill dumping fees every year. Many bottled water companies already use bottles made from 50, 75, and, in some cases, 100 percent rPET.
  • Educating consumers about the importance of recycling their empty bottled water containers. A study by the National Association for PET Container Resources shows empty PET bottled water containers have a higher recycling rate than the overall PET bottle rate.
  • Reducing impact on landfills. Bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable, but when they aren’t recycled, they make up just 3.3 percent of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. This helpful infographic  puts that small figure into context, showing that the waste percentage numbers are much higher for glass (66.7 percent), aluminum (7.9 percent), and plastic soda bottles (13.3 percent) that end up in landfills.
  • Developing a Material Recovery Program (MRP), a collaborative joint venture between businesses and government that supports the development of new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in U.S. communities. This can be done 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.

“Bottled water is a sustainable industry. From responsibly managing water resources to investing in new LEED certified facilities, to promoting increased recycling of all plastics, the bottled water industry is taking a broad-based approach to being good stewards of the environment,” said Ms. Culora.

“The bottled water industry is committed to helping people lead healthier lives and make environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.”

Helpful resources:

A study by Antea shows that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages.

IBWA is a sponsor of The Recycling Partnership, an innovative industry collaboration focused on systematically and measurably improving curbside recycling in the United States. The Recycling Partnership has directly assisted more than 250 local communities, improving recycling for 19 million households.

As this recycling infographic shows, more than 70 percent of what Americans throw in the trash is actually recyclable. And cities and towns end up paying $6.7 billion each year in landfill dumping fees – but we don't need to. If we just recycled more often, our towns and cities could save an astonishing $4.6 billion each year.

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), 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.

For more information about bottled water and recycling, please visit IBWA’s website.

Source: IBWA