What about bottled soft drinks?

Photo courtesy of trochaic at Flickr.com.

Bottled water has come under a lot of fire lately, but soda bottles are made with some of the same PET plastics. Soda bottles cause the same environmental harms and may even cause greater damage to our health.

Soda bottles aren’t good for the earth. They fill landfills, clog oceans, and release pollution during both production and distribution. Our consumption of these bottles is rising at an alarming pace:

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans consumed in excess of 200 billion bottled and canned beverages last year; an increase of 50 billion bottles and cans from ten years prior. That figure isn’t just due to population increase – people are consuming more. Consumption of beverages in aluminum, glass, steel and plastic containers in the USA has skyrocketed from just over 250 units per person annually in 1970 to over 670 today.

What can we do about plastic soda bottles?
1.) Drink less soda.
2.) Choose glass bottles instead of plastic.
3.) Use re-usable containers and cups.
4.) Contact bottling companies and request they offer bioplastic options.
5.) Recycle all bottles that we do use (and make sure to take off the caps).

When you follow these tips, the benefits will add up over time just like coins in a jar. Small changes can create huge effects!

Photo courtesy of targeteer2k at Flickr.com.

Jason McClellan April 16, 2008 at 11:15 am

Last year, Treehugger had a post about an online survey that showed 72 percent of the American public doesn’t know that conventional plastics are made from petroleum products (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/70_of_americans.php). Now, with oil prices at an all-time high – again! – (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i5TtajgUpSm7KY5jf-lCJGHBB-tAD902C4RO0) it would make sense for us to kick our oil addiction, and by association, find alternatives to traditional plastics.

This month, Primo Water Corporation will be introducing a bottled water with a bottle made from plant-based plastics, not crude oil-based plastics. A peer-reviewed life cycle analysis (Industrial Biotechnology, Spring 2007), written with support from the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., showed that the manufacturing of this plant-based plastic requires 65 percent less fossil resources than traditional plastic, and emits 80 to 90 percent less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

A little context…each year, Americans spend nearly $11 billion on bottled water, and then toss over 22 billion empty plastic bottles in the trash. In bottle production alone, the more than 70 million bottles of water consumed each day in the U.S. drain 1.5 million barrels of oil over the course of one year. (http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/121/bottle)

You’re probably wondering why it’s taken so long for a plant-based plastic water bottle to hit the market. Primarily, it’s because the bottled water market is so crowded, and it is very difficult for an entrepreneurial company to crack the Nestle/Coke/Pepsi tier.

Primo has been able to do this because of its existing business model. Primo is primarily a 3- and 5-gallon water cooler jug provider. Its owner, Billy Prim, formerly owned the Blue Rhino propane company. If you’re familiar with the Blue Rhino concept – consumers buy a tank of propane for their grill, when the tank is empty they return to the store and exchange it for a new tank — Primo operates the same way. Consumers return empty water cooler jugs to stores that sell Primo and exchange them for full jugs. The jugs are constantly exchanged and recycled, creating zero-waste containers. Primo already has a foot in the door at several major grocery chains, and this month they will supplement their water cooler jug business with a single serve product. For both product lines, finding a way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is a key driver.

To be fully transparent, I handle public relations for Primo’s single serve product. Primo is relying more on a word-of-mouth campaign to raise awareness for the plant-based plastic bottle, hence my reaching out to your blog. It’s a combination of having a good story to tell and a desire to use a lot less paper.

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