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The plastic pollution – PET bottles

by Floro Mercene

Data says more than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300 billion a decade ago. Majority of plastic bottles used across the globe are for drinking water. This increase is being driven by increased urbanization, health consciousness, concerns about the quality of tap water. Almost 20,000 plastic bottles are produced every second.

Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is highly recyclable. But as their use soars across the globe, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles are failing to keep up. Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles, which means most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. Once plastic is in our ocean, it remains there forever. Plastic is non-biodegradable. Plastic bottles are the third, most common ocean polluter after cigarettes and food packaging, and are causing enormous damage to our oceans.

Government, retailers and consumers should increase the rates of plastic bottle recycling, reduce plastic littering and cut marine pollution. In Norway, their effort has led to 96% of all bottles being returned, with similar results in other countries that have adopted Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) setting up a mandatory deposit return scheme.

Several high-profile campaigns are trying to flag the issues to consumers and change their habits like committing them to remove all single-use plastics from their homes including plastic bottles, plastic cups and straws.

All bottled water is expensive. Over 90% of the cost of a water bottle can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label. By avoiding buying bottled water and refilling your own re-usable bottle, you can save your money and also avoid single-use plastic bottles littering the world’s ocean.