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The bottled water industry celebrates Earth Day by showcasing its efforts and dedication to protecting the environment and natural resources. “In keeping with this year’s Earth Day theme of ‘Trees for the Earth,’ the members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) are continuing their sustainable industry focus through numerous environmental impact-reduction efforts, which are built on a foundation of sound science,” says Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for IBWA.

“The bottled water industry is a strong supporter of our environment and our natural resources. In fact, a life cycle assessment conducted by Quantis International shows bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage. Key findings of this study show that bottled water is the most environmentally responsible packaged drink choice.”

A study by Antea shows that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages. On average, only 1.32l of water (including the liter of water consumed) and 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water. The IBWA joined forces with The Recycling Partnership, an industry collaboration focused on systematically and measurably improving curbside recycling in the United States. Last year the partnership leveraged $11 million of new recycling infrastructure including the delivery of 165,000 recycling carts.

Making PET plastic bottles from recycled plastic (rPET) uses 84% less energy than those made from virgin material. It also saves more than $8 million in landfill dumping fees every year. While bottled water is just one of thousands of consumer items packaged in plastic, many bottled water companies already use bottles made from 50, 75, and in some cases, 100% rPET.

- PET plastic bottled water bottles already use less plastic than any other packaged beverage

- According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container declined 51%. This resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.

- PET plastic bottled water containers, measured in tons of landfill space, make up just 3.3% of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. This helpful infographic puts that small figure into context, showing that the waste percentage numbers are much higher for the glass (66.7%), aluminum (7.9%), and plastic soda bottles (13.3%) that end up in landfills.

“While the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled in the last 10 years and they are the most frequently recycled PET beverage containers in curbside recycling programs, we are always looking for ways to strengthen existing programs and help to expand recycling efforts of all plastics ever further,” explains Chris Hogan.

To help spread the word, IBWA produced a short video aimed at encouraging people to recycle. 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.

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