Bottled Water Containers Now the Single Most Recycled Item in Curbside Programs
February 19, 2009
Bottled Water Container Recycling Rates Improved by 16%
ALEXANDRIA, VA—The national recycling rate for PET plastic bottled water containers (.5 liter or 16.9 ounce size) has improved by 16.42%, according to new data from two new studies: “2008 Post Consumer PET Bottle Bale Composition Analysis” and “2007 Report on PET Water Bottle Recycling,” both produced by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). According to data from an earlier 2006 bale content study for all beverages, the number of PET bottles counted per pound was approximately 12. In 2008, the total number of PET bottles increased to 13.78, a reflection of the dramatic increase in water bottle collection, as well as the continued lightweighting of other plastic containers. The 2007 NAPCOR study on water bottle recycling has determined that the recycling rate for water bottles is 23.4%, representing a significant 16.42% increase over the 2006 recycling rate of 20.1%.
With data compiled during an extensive bale composition study in 15 locations in 14 states, the 2008 NAPCOR PET analysis states: “Water bottles are now the most recycling container in curbside programs by weight, and overwhelmingly by number.” PET water bottles now account for 50% of all the PET bottles and containers collected by curbside recycling. This trend was consistent in all curbside bales sampled nationally, with no major shifts observed in any other plastic container category. The biggest jump in water bottle collection for recycling was in California, where a state-funded consumer education campaign, emphasizing that water bottles are recyclable, seems to be having the desired effect.
Average Gram Weight per Bottle Declined by 26.7% Over Past Seven Years
In tandem with the new NAPCOR data, IBWA tracked the average amount of plastic used in .5 liter (16.9 ounce) PET bottles, using published data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) to determine the lightweighting trend currently being seen in many brands of bottled water. In the year 2000, the average weight of a plastic water bottle was 18.90 grams. It has declined consistently on an annual basis and by 2007, the last year BMC has complete data (as of this date), the average weight of a PET water bottle was 13.83 grams – a 26.7% decline.
“Recycling rates continue to rise while bottle weight tumbles downward,” said Joe Doss, President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association. “But this improvement, while encouraging, reminds us that more needs to be done. It is very clear that the bottled water industry is swiftly headed in the right direction while delivering the convenience, safety and refreshing hydration that made bottled water so popular in the first place.”