Landfill & Plastic Bottles - Sustainability
Bottled water is increasingly popular in Australia. However, plastic bottles generate an enormous amount of waste that is ending up in landfill or even worse in our environment. According to the 2010 Clean Up Australia Rubbish Report, one in ten items found on Clean Up Australia Day where related to plastic drinking bottles.
By avoiding bottled water and refilling your own bottle you can help conserve virgin resources and protect our pristine nature. Another great side effect is saving money. One bottle of water can cost you around $2.50 versus only a few cents per litre for your own purified water. So start refilling your water bottle today.
- In production: Most bottled water is packaged in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles which are derived from crude oil. It can take up to 3L of water to produce 1L of water.
- In transportation: Transportation of bottled water around the world requires burning of fossil fuels
- In landfill and the litter stream: Although plastic bottles are recyclable, many end up in landfill and take up to 1000 years to break down. When littered they often end up in the sea where they break up in small pieces, killing marine life that mistake them for food.
And after all bottled water is expensive. Over 90% of the cost of a water bottle can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label. You can save all that money by drinking water from your own purifier.
What can you do?
The best thing to do is to avoid bottled water.
- Install a water purifier if you are concerned about the taste or quality of your local tap water.
- Buy a reusable bottle
- Pick up and recycle any plastic bottles you find as rubbish.
- Support the campaign for Container Deposit Legislation
- Ask your local council to install water fountains to allow people to refill reusable bottles.
A growing wasteland
One of the most obvious impacts of plastic bottles is what happens after the water has been consumed. Despite recycling infrastructure that exists in order to facilitate the recycling of these bottles, according to the Container Recycling Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles used in the US become garbage that ends up in landfills throughout the country. Considering that approximately 60 million plastic water bottles are used every day in the US, we can assume that nearly 18,834,000,000 end up in the landfill each year. Each bottle can take up to 700 years to decompose.
This is where plastic bottles take a bit of a hit. Many studies show that polycarbonate plastic, a type of plastic used in many household and food products, gradually leaches a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) into foods and liquids that are stored in containers made from this material.
According to healthnews.org, the chemical compounds released by these plastics can alter hormones and have other potential human health effects. Animals, including more than 180 species of which have been documented to ingest plastic debris, are also affected by the chemicals and can be permanently injured or die as a result of the poison.