landfill debris

Bottled Water Landfill Claims Are Exaggerated

January 20, 2016

In the world of worthy causes, protesting the use of bottled water for its supposed detrimental impact on landfills – and the environment in general – is a big favorite. Those convenient little containers of water seem to have incurred the wrath of so many in the environmental movement.

The villain in this Chicken Little saga is the user and the manufacturer of bottled water. But the facts, examined against the larger backdrop of what actually goes into landfills, seem to tell another story, that bottled water landfill claims are exaggerated and gloss over the preponderance of health and environmental information to the contrary.

“On social media and in the blogosphere, reports continue to errantly perpetuate the idea that bottled water packaging is clogging up U.S. landfills,” said Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association.

“So, IBWA decided to put bottled water packaging to the test, comparing our packaging, side-by-side, against the other most common types of beverage container packaging.”

bottled water in a landfill

Bottled Water Has Smallest Environmental Impact

What the study uncovered is that perhaps the blame game was being played on the wrong ballpark. Despite the long and expanding list of water’s health benefits, the casting of bottle water as the malefactor in this environmental drama was way off base.

While evidence of bottled water’s presence in landfills is undeniable, it pales in comparison to other comparable waste products. In other words, the green police have arrested the wrong suspect.

“When you (compare it with other wastes in landfills), you see that bottled water containers, measured in tons of landfill space, make up just 3.3 percent of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. The waste percentage numbers are much higher for the glass (66.7 percent), aluminum (7.9 percent), and soda bottles (13.3 percent) that end up in landfills.”

Here is a list of debris that rank higher than plastic bottled water containers in landfills:

  • Carbonated beverages
  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles
  • Cardboard cartons
  • Foil pouches
  • Aseptic boxes
  • HDPE jugs and reusable containers

“First, we examined the ‘tons’ of mismanaged packaging — i.e., the containers that go into landfills instead of being recycled,” Hogan said. “It’s important to note here that nearly all beverage containers are 100 percent recyclable and should be recycled, not placed in landfills.”

In 2010, the Container Recycling Institute analyzed beverage and container sales recycling rates and found more than 9 million tons of beverage containers were wasted (put in landfills). The number for bottled water barely rose above .3 million (300,000) tons – 3 percent of the total.

Landfill waste from the heavier carbonated containers in landfills was more than 1.2 million tons, four times the weight of bottled water.

“Bottled water’s critics also commonly misrepresent environmental facts when they want to disparage bottled water products. In one often-seen example, they cite energy use and greenhouse gas emissions numbers, comparing bottled water packaging to oil use and car emissions,” Hogan said.

“Again, we researched the facts to compare bottled water’s PET containers against the previously identified seven most common drink packages. The quest was to determine the environmental impacts of each packaging type.

“Using the CRI report, we discovered that PET plastic for bottled water containers has the smallest footprint when you consider energy used to make the container, greenhouse gas emissions, and recyclability rate.”

We at Azure Water take special care in ensuring you get the highest quality bottled water that enhances your lifestyle and promotes healthier living. Read about the health benefits, conveniences of bottled water, how bottled water use is gaining in popularity and how we purify our water.

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