New data compiled by Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC), New York, show that between 2000 and 2014 the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) single-serve PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle of water has declined 52 percent to 9.25 grams. This has resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000, the organization says.
In addition to lightweighting, water bottles also incorporate more recycled content than in the past. BMC reports that between 2008 and 2014, the use of rPET (recycled PET) in bottled water packaging increased by 17.5 percent to 21 percent. In fact, last year alone, rPET use increased by 8 percent. For companies that use rPET, the average rPET content is 20 percent per container, BMC says.
“While more and more consumers choose bottled water instead of less healthy packaged drinks, our industry continues its efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. In fact, PET plastic bottled water bottles use less plastic than any other packaged beverage,” says Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), based in Alexandria, Virginia.
According to BMC, bottled water is poised to become the largest beverage category, by volume, in the United States by the end of the decade.
All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable; and of all the plastics produced in the U.S., PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.92 percent, according to the BMC.
“From an environmental standpoint, when people choose bottled water instead of any other canned or bottled beverage, they are choosing less packaging, less energy consumption and less use of natural resources,” Hogan says. “What’s more, recycling the bottle can cut that impact by an additional 50 percent, if it is reused to replace virgin PET plastic.”
To encourage a comprehensive approach to effective recycling, IBWA developed its Material Recovery Program (MRP), a collaborative joint venture between businesses and government. The MRP supports the development of new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in U.S. communities by having all consumer product companies, including bottled water, work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste education and collection efforts for all packaged goods.