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BOTTLED WATER: THE IMPACT ON MUNICIPAL WASTE STREAMS. Brett Rosenberg The U.S. Conference of Mayors May 1, 2008 New York City. BOTTLED WATER: THE IMPACT ON MUNICIPAL WASTE STREAMS. RESOLUTION 90: IMPORTANCE OF MUNICIPAL WATER

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BOTTLED WATER: THE IMPACT ON MUNICIPAL WASTE STREAMS

Brett Rosenberg

The U.S. Conference of Mayors

May 1, 2008

New York City

bottled water the impact on municipal waste streams
BOTTLED WATER: THE IMPACT ON MUNICIPAL WASTE STREAMS

RESOLUTION 90: IMPORTANCE OF MUNICIPAL WATER

WHEREAS, more than a quarter of bottled water is sourced from municipal tap water; and

WHEREAS, bottled water must travel many miles from the source, resulting in the burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels, releasing CO2 and other pollution into the atmosphere; and

WHEREAS, plastic water bottles are one of the fastest growing sources of municipal waste; and

WHEREAS, in the U.S. the plastic bottles produced for water require 1.5 million barrels of oil per year, enough to generate electricity for 250,000 homes or fuel 100,000 cars for a year; and…

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The US Conference of Mayors encourage a compilation of information regarding the importance of municipal water and the impact of bottled water on municipal waste.

bottled water municipal waste
Bottled Water & Municipal Waste
  • Definitions
  • Consumption & Demand
  • Recycling Opportunities and Challenges
  • Solid Waste
  • Other Environmental Concerns
bottled water municipal waste4
Bottled Water & Municipal Waste

“The production, packaging, distribution and consumption patterns of the different types of bottled water vary considerably.”

Non-carbonated, or “still” water

Individual bottles, either sold separately or in bulk

Plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)

demand consumption

Demand/Consumption

Americans bought a total of 8.3 billion gallons of bottled water in 2006, sold in a variety of containers from small single‐serving bottles to multi‐gallon water cooler bottles.

Of this amount, non‐carbonated water totaled 7.3 billion gallons, or 88% of the total bottled water market

Individual PET containers accounted for 4.7 billion gallons, i.e., 57% of the bottled water market.

demand consumption7

Demand/Consumption

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans buy an estimated 25 billion single‐serving, plastic water bottles each year.

Another source estimates that Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, about 167 per person.

The Container Recycling Institute states that Non‐sparkling bottled water sales doubled in three years: going from 15 billion units sold in 2002 to 29.8 billion sold in 2005.

This is almost seven times the 3.8 billion units sold in 1997. Sales of plastic water bottles 1 liter or less increased more than 115%, from 13 billion in 2002 to 27.9 billion in 2005.

recycling opportunities
Recycling Opportunities

“At present, the market for post‐consumer PET bottles … in the United States is strong. However, there is a growing gap between the demand for post‐consumer bottles and the available supply. Simply put, there are not enough post-consumer bottles in the recycling system to satisfy the demands of the domestic PET reclaimers.”

But…

Demand for post‐consumer PET containers collected by local recycling programs have made it difficult for domestic materials reclaimers to compete and has led to much consolidation throughout the industry

recycling opportunities9
Recycling Opportunities
  • Meanwhile…
  • Exports aside, in 2004, there were more than 3633 million pounds million of domestic scrap PET bottles that could have been recycled, but were not.
  • One estimate claims that about 12% of water bottles are recycled, while 88% of plastic water bottles end up as garbage or litter (this study does not readily specify a particular bottle type or material)
  • A similar report claims that at most, PET recycling rates are estimated at 23%, when considered with other PET beverage containers.
  • Industry sources put the PET recycling rate at 24 to 26 percent, while the overall HDPE recycling rate which may be considered comparable to PET recycling rates, reached 28 percent.
recycling opportunities10
Recycling Opportunities
  • It is safe to say that the overall PET recycling rate is below 30 percent.
    • In 1995, PET recycling reached 39.7 percent.
  • Over the past 15 years,. The number of beverage containers sold increased over 40 percent, while beverage container recycling rates declined by about one‐third.
  • PET plastic is generally only good for recycling once and usually for different products with different material requirements, such as carpet or clothing.
  • Large, multi‐gallon polycarbonate carboys, used in home and office delivery services, are re‐usable 40‐50 times; many bottled water providers claim that their products are recycled into new products following life as a continually reused container.
recycling opportunities11
Recycling Opportunities
  • Curbside Recycling
    • Widespread
    • Favored by bottled water industry
    • Effectiveness depends on local resources and market for PET
  • Bottle Bills
    • Only three states with programs that extend to water bottles
    • Favored by much of the environmental community
    • Of debatable effectiveness
  • Definite need for more recycling opportunities
    • At points of use
    • At public events
municipal waste
Municipal Waste
  • According to beverage industry data, in 2006, PET bottled water containers produced 827,000 tons of scrap PET.
    • By weight, this amounts to 3/10 of one percent of all municipal solid waste generated in 2006; 5.8 percent of all plastic packaging produced; and 2.8 percent of all plastics entering the waste stream each year.
  • Through improvements in packaging technology, the beverage industry in 2008 will be able to reduce, or “lightweight” by over 100 million pounds the amount of PET resin necessary to manufacture bottles.
    • 827,000 tons equals 1.654 billion pounds, removing 100 million pounds from the equation still leaves 1.554 billion pounds of PET from water bottles in the waste stream.
municipal waste13
Municipal Waste
  • The major bottlers and distributers (Nestle, Coke, Pepsi and others) are increasing their capacities to recover and reuse bottles.
  • But…
  • An estimated 88% of plastic water bottles end up as garbage or litter.
  • Landfilled water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
  • Fortunately…
  • Due to their relative longevity and inert compositions, the bottles do not contribute to leachate or gaseous emissions from landfills.
environmental impacts
Environmental Impacts
  • Specialized mineral waters fair very poorly against tap water in terms of the petroleum or natural gas used as a feedstock in bottles and the power necessary to produce the bottles and fill them with water; the greenhouse gas emissions from that stem from production and transportation; and other measures.
  • Even municipal water that is filtered, bottled and transported to points of sale or use is 25 to 50 percent higher in terms of overall environmental impact.
  • The Container Recycling Institute estimates that producing PET, which is a petroleum or natural gas product, for bottles used 18 million barrels of crude oil equivalents in 2005, producing 800 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions.