Oct 22, 2015

Data Show Bottled Water Containers Use More Recycled PET Plastic Than Before

The average weight of a 16.9-ounce bottle has declined 52% since 2000

bottled water recycled PET

New data compiled by the Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC) show that between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) single-serve PET plastic bottled water bottle has declined 52% to 9.25 grams. This has resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion lb of PET resin since 2000.

The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) noted that 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.

Additional savings of virgin PET can be attributed to increasing use of rPET in bottled water containers. BMC reports that between 2008 and 2014, the use of rPET in bottled water packaging increased by 17.5% to 21%. In fact, last year alone, rPET use increased by 8%. For companies that use rPET, the average rPET content is 20% per container.

“While more and more consumers choose bottled water instead of less healthy packaged drinks, our industry continues its efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. In fact, PET plastic bottled water bottles use less plastic than any other packaged beverage,” said International Bottled Water Assn. (IBWA) vice president of communications Chris Hogan.

According to BMC, bottled water is poised to become the largest beverage category, by volume, in the U.S. by the end of the decade.

All bottled water containers are 100% recyclable; and of all the plastics produced in the U.S., PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.92%. Moreover, according data derived from BMC and the Container Resource Institute, bottled water containers make up only 4.9% of all drink packaging in landfills. Plastic 3- and 5-gal bottled water containers are reused 30 to 50 times before being recycled, and the bottled water industry continues to support community recycling programs.

“From an environmental standpoint, when people choose bottled water instead of any other canned or bottled beverage, they are choosing less packaging, less energy consumption, and less use of natural resources. What’s more, recycling the bottle can cut that impact by an additional 50%, if it is re-used to replace virgin PET plastic,” said Hogan.

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.