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When choosing virgin plastic over providing refillable bottles, manufacturers, and retailers are significantly contributing to plastic pollution in the ocean. In fact, the report found that increasing the market share of refillable bottles by 10% in all coastal countries in place of single-use plastic bottles could reduce PET bottle marine plastic pollution by 22%.
And if we made the switch to refillable bottles it would keep up to 7.6 billion disposable plastic ones out of the ocean EACH YEAR.
The Report: Called “Just one word: Refillables. How the soft drink industry can reduce marine plastic pollution by billions of bottles each year,” the report also estimates that between 20 billion and 34 billion plastic PET bottles produced and sold by the soft drink or Non-Alcoholic Ready to Drink (NARTD) industry enter the ocean each year. As Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless explained,
“Beverage companies are major ocean polluters and are producing billions of plastic bottles every year that end up in the sea essentially forever. They need to take responsibility and make commitments to reduce plastic production and waste.”
What Can Be Done: Oceana’s report calls for a swift pivot to using more refillable beverage bottles. These are bottles that companies sell to customers and then are returned, washed, refilled, and sold again. Customers return these bottles because they pay a deposit that is refunded to them upon returning the bottle.
The bottles, made from both PET plastic and glass, are used 20 to 50 times. Until recently, refillables systems were the primary way beverage companies sold soft drinks around the world.
The report notes that studies have found that refillable bottles have a lower carbon footprint than single-use throwaway plastic bottles, citing recent life cycle analysis studies in Germany and Chile.
“In Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, one giant plastics plant is under construction, and a second awaits a decision on financing in an Appalachian region that federal officials have said could support even more manufacturing—an effort that the Trump administration may assist with loan guarantees this year.”
That’s a problem. Since oil is cheap and recycling and refilling infrastructure can be complicated, manufacturers are taking the easy road.
Why This Matters: Tens of thousands of whales, sea birds, fish, and turtles have been observed suffering from entanglement or ingestion of plastic permeating the marine environment. It is impacting everything from zooplankton and fish, to sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds, and whales. Our addiction to plastic is choking our planet yet the solution will be achieved in part with solutions that we already have in our arsenal: like refillable bottle systems. It’s a great place to start!
North Carolina Coastal Federation has a nature-based plan for dealing with heavy rainfall that captures and filters water instead. Green infrastructure includes solutions like rain gardens, restoring wetlands, and permeable pavement. The state plan calls for comprehensive incorporation of nature-based stormwater strategies across roadways, farmland, and in new building construction.
Why This Matters: It’s not just sea-level rise that causes increased flooding and infrastructure damage: heavy rains can be just as disruptive. Using plants, dirt, and other natural ways to handle excess water is often simpler and more cost-effective than their conventional counterparts.
The world is becoming more and more like The Matrix every day, at least in one particular way: scientists have figured out how to use the human body as a battery. No, your body can’t produce enough energy to create a global simulation, but it can produce enough heat to charge wearable devices like smartwatches and implants like pacemakers.
Why This Matters: Battery production and disposal have been problematic for decades. Mining for rare earth metals like such as cadmium, mercury, lead, and lithium threatens environments and communities across the globe.
by Erin Simon, Head of Plastic Waste and Business, World Wildlife Fund After a year of unprecedented devastation and loss, the arrival of 2021 has shown us at least a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Our top priority remains the immediate health and safety of our fellow citizens, but we […]
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