Posted on

Plastic Bottles

The image depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number uses in the US every five minutes.

This a frightening image of the waste and pollution. Now imagination the number of beverage bottles used globally in 5 minutes.

Chris Jordan, 2007 60×120″

 

Metro Vancouver recently held some sustainability breakfast meetings. One of the topics discussed concerned bottled water: why we should ban it, how to wean schools off it and what constitutes “pure” drinking water.

The meetings raised raised many points which can not all be adequately be summed up in this post, but here are a few highlights:

  • Vancouver water is some of the cleanest in the world, and most affordable thanks to the use of gravity to pump it from North Shore reservoirs to the faucets of Metro Vancouver;
  • Occasional turbidity is more a PR headache, but poses no real health risks;
  • Schools budgets are partly funded by drink suppliers like Coca-Cola, whose vending machines line school hallways. The greatest challenge is to wean kids off bottles using drinking fountains, or other re-usable containers;
  • Drinking fountains and rusty tasting water is a problem, which can and will be resolved although it will be costly;
  • Hazardous levels of  Nitrates are often in bottled water from around the world, especially in Asia;
  • Canada does not require labels  to disclose the amounts of chemicals in each bottle, whereas, both Europe and the US have mandated this requirement; 
  • Only 65% of plastic bottles are recycled. 35% wind up in landfills. 10,000 empty plastic water bottles equals one barrel of oil; and
  • The manufacture of plastic bottles generates 100 times the toxic emissions that are produced in the manufacturing of glass bottles.

Metro Vancouver in conjunction with municipalities and various agencies are working on solutions to these challenges. For now you can make a conscious choice to pledge to drink only tap water whenever possible.