Water containers: recycling or reuse? What is the best sustainable solution for waste management? We’ll tell you, but first a few numbers
Every year in Italy about 11 billion plastic bottles are placed on the market (2017) of which more than 60% are not recycled.
We are talking about quantities of plastic such as to generate about 850,000 tons of CO2eq. A number to say the least disproportionate if you think that a return flight Rome – New York emits “only” 1.3 tons.
It is therefore clear that although recycling is a correct practice, it is not the best solution to the problem we face.
The concepts of circular economy are clear: we must first reduce, then reuse and finally recycle.
So what is the best environmentally best solution?
In this study prepared by our Environment Committee, different types of containers materials (bottle of PET, recycled PET, glass, aluminium cans, etc.) and different waste management systems (disposable, recycled disposable and reuse) have been compared, all related to the consumption of water in containers.
Specifically, the average annual water consumption of a person who drinks 1.5L per day was taken into account. While numerous parameters related to the life cycle of the bottle with an LCA approach were taken into account, such as raw materials, transport, production, packaging, etc.
As you can see from the graph below, among all the systems considered the only truly sustainable is reuse.
In fact, reusing your own bottle (whether it is aluminum or glass) is clearly the best solution not only to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to limit the extraction of resources, consume less energy and drastically reduce the amount of waste that pollutes our planet.
Recycling water bottles is not a long-sustainable waste management system. Today it is often used as a greenwashing tool by large companies, to be able to boast of being attentive to the environment. In reality, however, only 5% of recycled bottles return to being a bottle. While the rest is used to manufacture products of lower quality (downcycling) as synthetic fabrics: the main responsible for microplastics’ pollution in the ocean.
Given the state of environmental emergency in which we find ourselves, encouraging the practice of reusing water bottles is today the only truly sustainable solution for our planet!
Act today for the good of tomorrow.
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