What is a plastic bottle in reality?
First of all, let’s talk about plastic. In everyday language, plastic is a mixture of polymer, synthetic. This material is very widely used and allows to achieve properties such as transparency or impact resistance. The material from the polymer is then hot molded and shaped to produce products, semi-finished products, or various objects. The plastic bottle is one of these processes. It appeared in the 1960s. The plastic bottle is the preferred means of transporting and protecting liquids. The first bottles were made of PVC, a well-known material that is no longer used today due to the evolution of materials.
What plastic is used in water bottles today?
Today, there are 6 main materials used in the production of bottles. These materials all have a symbol to understand how these plastics are recycled.
We find the most used material, PET. It appeared in 1992, it replaces PVC for water bottles, reducing the weight of the bottles by a third, from 50g to 30g. PET is also widely used because its properties allow carbonated water to be adequately conditioned. PET is recyclable and is generally reused to produce other bottles, clothes, rugs, or even brushes.
The HDPE is a material used for the production of semi-rigid and opaque bottles. Milk bottles or bottles containing cleaning fluids are usually made of this plastic. HDPE is recyclable and is used to produce other bottles, garbage bags, agricultural pipes, barriers, containers, etc.
PVC, in its rigid form, is still widely used. However, PVC is no longer really used in its plastic form because when the material is burned, it releases toxic vapors that are harmful to health and the environment. This material is generally recycled to produce pipes, windows, gates, non-food bottles, etc.
If PP begins to appear in the design of the bottles, they are easily recyclable in car parts, serving trays, carpets, or industrial fibers.
PC or polycarbonate is a very different material from the previous ones. It is sterilizable like glass. In general, this material is used in the production of reusable bottles. It is a prevalent material because it is unbreakable. However, it contains BPA, which is suspected to be toxic to health.
PLA is a material advertised as the “green” solution to the proliferation of PET bottles. PLA is a compostable material, which could significantly reduce the volume of waste. However, this material is still too unsuitable. PLA bottles are not sufficiently distinguishable and would disrupt the recycling chain for PET bottles. To distinguish this material, significant investments would be necessary, and the industry is not yet ready to make such an effort. You would think that with its compostable properties, the bottle could be thrown in the wild, but this is not the case. A bioplastic that decomposes in a natural environment releases methane, 23 times more polluting than CO2.
So we can see that the plastic bottle takes many forms. Despite cleaner solutions, the PET bottle remains in the majority. Every year, 60 million tonnes, of which 16 million are used to manufacture plastic bottles. Although PET is recyclable, it obviously is not always. Countries like Switzerland manage to recycle in large volumes approaching 100%! Yet other countries like the United States only record a rate of 14%, which means that the remaining 86% end up in litter or household waste.
Did you know that companies have a major role in the non-recycling of plastic bottles? Well, yes, it is a fact. Companies do not always have the means to sort plastic packaging, which is the case for PET bottles. The big problem is the lack of awareness but the lack of sorting containers for these bottles. There is no additional solution to remedy this, such as setting up water fountains or direct access. Drinking water nearby.
How to recycle our plastic bottles?
Above all, you have to know how to identify the recyclability of your bottle! Don’t panic. Since 2015 the Triman pictogram is there to guide you.
After spotting this logo, where to throw your bottle? In the trash! But beware, not just any. Your recyclable plastic bottles must be thrown in a container that complies with the collection of packaging to be recycled, in the bin or the yellow bin. Be careful not to put your recyclable waste in a bag. Your trash must be thrown away in bulk.
Also, be careful not to throw away your full bottle. If it is empty, flatten it to save space and close it with the stopper and you’re done! However, if your plastic bottle contained toxic products, plastic bottles can no longer be recycled as they are considered toxic products.
Some good reasons to recycle your plastic bottle:
- You save essential resources such as oil, raw materials, energy, and a lot of water.
- Recycling makes it possible to manufacture various objects such as textile fibers for PET and watering cans, benches, bins for HDPE.
- A water bottle in nature takes about 500 years to disappear, and again this disappearance is only visual as microplastics sink into the soil.
After so much effort, we understand that you have every right to know how your water bottle turns into a watering can! Come on, we’ll tell you.
The first step after collecting your recyclable waste is arriving at the sorting center. The contents of the yellow bins and the bins reserved for plastics are sorted again, either by professionals or by high-precision machines. After a second sorting and arrival in the correct channel, this waste is compacted and ready to be sent to the regeneration plant.
The second step consists of pressing all the materials, previously sorted, into large cubes after passing through the press. These cubes are then sent to specialized companies for recycling, and that’s probably how your flowers are watered!
How to replace the plastic bottle?
Recycling is certainly a good thing, but frankly, why not get rid of plastic bottles once and for all?
If you are sensitive enough to the environment, you will find many alternatives to plastic water bottles. Think you are not getting the same water quality and the same taste with the perfect water filter solution? We show you that it is possible.
1. Filter jugs
We find the activated carbon solution integrated into the carafe. The carafe makes it easier for you to use activated charcoal because it is less likely to fall than in a conventional container.
If your main issue is water portability and you’re on the go a lot, don’t worry. There are other ways to get around with your water!
2. The essential gourd
There are some in stainless steel, ceramic, aluminum, and in the worst case, plastic.
The gourd remains the best alternative to the plastic water bottle. It is infinitely reusable, and it can allow you to carry your water to work, school, wherever you want. Some gourds are now equipped with filtering straws based on an integrated carbon that functions as the best water filter, even in non-potable water sources!
3. The glass bottle
Not necessarily practical for travel due to its weight and its fragility, glass is a rare material that does not contain any polluting material harmful to health. Glass is an essential container.
4. The edible capsule
Still not widely used, the edible capsule has been around since 2013.
This solution is in the form of bubbles of vegetable matter, biodegradable and edible. It is an alloy of plants and algae containing 4 cl of water. The manufacture of these capsules requires 5 times less CO2 than the manufacture of plastic. This solution remains fragile and is mainly used for events such as marathons.
Try out these eco-friendly alternatives. Do not hesitate to plunge and inspire others to follow in your footsteps towards a more sustainable way of living.
About the Guest Author
Sunil Trivedi is the Managing Director of Aqua Drink. With 15 years of experience in the water purification industry, Sunil and his team have been ensuring that his clients consume 100% potable water to lead a healthy life and keep water-borne diseases miles away.