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PET water bottles: recycling grows, while weight drops

New studies show that the recycling rate for bottled water reached nearly 39% in 2011, while amount of PET plastic used in bottled water containers continues to drop.
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FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Recycling
     

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has announced that new data from the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) and the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) show the bottled water industry continuing to reduce its environmental footprint through significant increases in recycling and the use of less plastic in single-serve PET bottled water containers.

According to NAPCOR, now at almost 39%, the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled in the last seven years. And, BMC found that over the last 11 years, the average weight of a 16.9-oz (half-liter) single-serve PET plastic bottled water container has dropped by almost 47.8%, to 9.9 g.

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According to a January 2013 internal NAPCOR study, the national recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers jumped dramatically in 2011 to 38.6%, representing an increase of nearly 20% over the previous year’s rate of 32.25%. In its study, NAPCOR states that in 2011 (the most recent available data) there were approximately 1.3 billion pounds of PET plastic water bottle containers available for recycling in the U.S., of which 500 million pounds was reclaimed for recycling. And, PET plastic bottled water containers are the most frequently recycled PET beverage container in curbside recycling programs.

Additionally, data released by BMC on Jan. 31, 2013 shows that between 2000 and 2011, the average weight of a 16.9-oz (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container has declined 47.8%. This has resulted in a savings of 3.3 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.

The significant increase in the recycling rate of PET plastic bottled water containers, coupled with the continuing decrease in container weight, underscores the consistent drive of the bottled water industry to improve recycling programs and reduce its overall environmental footprint, says IBWA.

“The bottled water industry utilizes a variety of measures to reduce our environmental footprint,” says Chris Hogan, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “All bottled water containers are 100-percent recyclable. And, when you do the math, it turns out that of all the plastics produced in the U.S., PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.92 percent; less than one percent. Moreover, plastic bottled water containers make up only one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream, according to the EPA.”

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