America Recycles Day: A Key Time to Focus on Consumer Education

January 12, 2012

Last November 15th saw the celebration of America Recycles Day. As a part of this celebration, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) encouraged increased awareness of the importance of recycling and of choosing consumer products that are packaged in recyclable material. These include single serve PET bottled water and Home Office Delivery water cooler containers. 

Research  shows that the better people understand the reasons for recycling, the more likely they are to actually recycle. With this in mind, IBWA is making an  extra effort to help consumers understand the benefits of recycling.  As one part of  these continuing efforts, IBWA has produced a video tour of a PET reclaiming facility that turns empty plastic bottles into food-grade rPET and fibers. Click here to see this video.

Chris Hogan, Vice President of Communications at IBWA, stated:  “If consumers are more aware of how hungry reclaiming facilities are for recyclable goods, they will make a greater effort to recycle  all of their products, including bottled water containers.”

“The owners of this facility make it clear that they are in need of more bottles.  The current recycling rate of bottled water bottles is 31 per cent, which means there are a lot more bottles that could be going to reclaiming facilities,” Hogan continued.

From this point of view  there is some good news: recycling rates for bottled water containers are on the rise, having doubled in the last five years. Bottled water consumers are also the best recyclers of all packaged drinks, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR).

IBWA has long promoted recycling programs and is working to build partnerships  in order to help improve the recovery of recyclable materials, primarily through the expansion of single-stream kerbside recycling collection programs. IBWA’s Material Recovery Program framework encourages consumer product companies to work together with state and local governments in order to improve recycling and waste collection efforts.

The bottled water industry has made significant progress in reducing the amount of plastic used to make bottled water containers by light-weighting its packaging, demonstrated for example by Nestlé waters and its new range of products. Over the past eight years,  the total weight of 16.9 ounce (half-litre) PET plastic bottled water containers has been reduced by 32.6 per cent, saving  over 1.3 billion pounds of PET plastic resin. The use of recycled PET (rPET) and research into new compostable and bio-degradable plastics  also improve  recycling rates.

“The environmentally aware actions of many bottled water companies, such as the use of more recycled PET (rPET) in their bottle production, have positively impacted  the environmental footprint of the industry and are expected to lower the bottled water industry’s environmental footprint even more in the years ahead,” said  Hogan.

“The bottled water industry’s momentum towards more recycling and container lightweighting can be viewed as quickly going in the right direction. These are clear signs of improvement, but far more needs to be done with all plastic products and containers,” he concluded.