America Recycles Day: A Key Time to Focus on Consumer Education

Alexandria, VA – On America Recycles Day, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) encourages people to become more aware of the importance of recycling and to choose consumer products that are packaged in recyclable material, such as single serve PET bottled water and Home Office Delivery water cooler containers. Research shows that the better people understand the reasons for recycling, the more likely they will actually recycle and IBWA is making an extra effort to help consumers understand the benefits of recycling. “If consumers are more aware of how hungry reclaiming facilities are for recyclable goods, they will make a greater effort to recycle all of their products, including bottled water containers,” said Chris Hogan, vice president of communications at IBWA. Recycling rates for bottled water containers are on the rise, doubling in the last five years. And according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), bottled water drinkers are the best recyclers of all packaged drinks. In an effort to show consumers the value of recycling, IBWA produced a video tour of a PET reclaiming facility that turns empty plastic bottles into food-grade rPET and fibers. Click here to visit IBWA’s You Tube channel and watch the video “Recycling Empty Plastic Bottles”. “The owners of this facility make it clear that they are in need of more bottles,” said Hogan. “The current recycling rate of bottled water bottles is 31 percent, which means there are a lot more bottles that could be going to reclaiming facilities.” In fact, last year U.S. reclaimers had to import 89 million pounds of recyclable PET to meet the demands of recycled products. “Instead of importing empty bottles, we should be doing a better job at recycling the bottles that are already in the U.S.,” said Hogan. IBWA has long been an advocate for recycling programs and is working to build partnerships to help improve the recovery of recyclable materials, primarily through the expansion of single-stream curbside recycling collection programs. IBWA’s Material Recovery Program framework assists in developing new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in communities by having all consumer product companies work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste collection efforts. The bottled water industry has made significant inroads in reducing the amount of plastic used to make bottled water containers by light-weighting its packaging. Over the past eight years, the total weight of 16.9 ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water containers has been reduced by 32.6 percent. This has saved over 1.3 billion pounds of PET plastic resin. Other innovative ways to improve recycling includes expanding the use of recycled PET (rPET) and exploring new compostable and bio-degradable plastics. Many bottled water companies are already using up to 50 percent recycled material in their plastic bottles. IBWA has partnered with Earth 911.com, a major consumer education services company and website that addresses product end-of-life solutions and provides proper disposal information for more than 200 consumer products in over 120,000 locations. IBWA proudly sponsors the website’s section on plastic bottle recycling. All bottled water containers – whether plastic or glass – are all 100 percent recyclable. In addition, 3 and 5 gallon Home Office Delivery containers are reusable. “The environmentally aware actions of many bottled water companies, such as the use of more recycled PET (rPET) in their bottle production, have positively impacted the environmental footprint of the industry and are expected to lower the bottled water industry’s environmental footprint even more in the years ahead,” said Hogan. “The bottled water industry’s momentum toward more recycling and container lightweighting can be seen as quickly going in the right direction,” he said. “These are clear signs of improvement but far more needs to be done with all plastic products and containers.” “The fact that empty water bottles comprise only 1/3 of 1 percent of the U.S. waste stream, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicates that recycling is an issue that encompasses all types consumer packaging.” # # # Media Contact: Chris Hogan chogan@bottledwater.org 703.647.4609 The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. In addition to FDA and state regulations, the Association requires member bottlers to adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is an annual plant inspection by an independent, third party organization. Consumers can contact IBWA at 1-800-WATER-11 or log onto IBWA's web site (www.bottledwater.org) for more information about bottled water and a list of members' brands. Media inquiries can be directed to IBWA Vice President of Communications Chris Hogan at 703-647-4609 or chogan@bottledwater.org.