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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!
The most progressive corporate commitments this week involve nature-based mitigation and pushing sustainability out into their supply chains. Walmart pledged to do some big things, including achieving zero emissions by 2040 without carbon offsets, committing to protect and restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030, and promising zero waste in the US, Canada, and Japan by 2025.
Why This Matters: Nature-based solutions have until now been seen as greenwashing. But these new commitments go much farther.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer A 1000-foot stretch highway in Oroville, CA was recently repaved with recycled plastic and asphalt—the first time a state department has paved a road with 100% recycled materials. This durable recycled material can combat potholes, last two to three times longer than asphalt roads, and reuse about 150,000 single-use […]
Why This Matters: The report is another loudly ringing alarm bell that our current path is unsustainable — and we need to make a huge shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities.
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