Plastic Bottle Pollution

Plastic bottle pollution is much bigger than you think. “How do you know what I’m thinking,” you may ask? If you’re similar in your views on bottle pollution to those surveyed in a recent Gallup poll you probably see plastic bottle pollution as just the finished bottle. That’s where we’ve underestimated the effects of plastic bottle pollution.

Plastic bottles and fossil-fuels!plastic bottle pollution

According to the Worldwatch Institute, plastic bottle pollution requires millions of barrels of oil in production each year. The US is considered the worst culprit. For example, the US uses the oil equivalent of fuelling a million motor vehicles on the road for a year in plastic bottle production!

Plastic bottles are delivered over long distances. As a result, this increases their Carbon Footprint considerably. In this way, plastic bottles use up fossil fuels through transportation. Here’s a random fact: Fiji exported seventy million litres of bottled H20 to the USA last year. This means that nearly 2500 tons of pollution were added to the environment through that single act.

Plastic production requires significant amounts of petroleum and natural gas products. Did you know that approximately 5% of the Earth’s fossil-fuels’ production is directed at creating plastic bottles? One needs to take into account the production-cost to the environment, once the facts have been considered. That is to say, extracting these non-renewable fuels consumes energy and releases greenhouse gases.

Can’t we dump our old bottles in landfills?

Plastic bottles are made of petroleum and natural gas derivatives. These are wasted by dumping them in landfills or incineration—recycling safeguards energy and resources. Producing plastic bottles from recycled substances calls for less energy than refining new plastic resins from raw material. The carbon-footprint involved with producing new bottles from old is less than producing new bottles from virgin material.

PET bottles have a lifespan of 450 years. “Each year, about 2 million tons of PET bottles end up in landfills in the United States.”[1]PET or polyethene-terephthalate is the substance from which plastic bottles are made and thence manufactured into new bottles. So manufacturing a Roof Insulation product such as Isotherm Insulation is a winner for all globally.

Unfortunately, plastic bottles’ recycling is a form of plastic bottle pollution in itself—the very transportation of plastic bottles for recycling results in transportation-related carbon emissions. For an example of the fourteen-per cent of PET bottles that are recycled in America, 38 per cent of those are sent elsewhere around the globe for recycling thereby incurring a contribution to the carbon footprint. In South Africa, all the Roof Insulation plants that manufacture the Isotherm Insulation are in all major cities. This makes the Isotherm one of the most Eco-friendly insulation products globally so if your home needs insulation to think Eco-friendly Home Insulation.

Plastic Bottle Pollution at Sea

swimming at sea with plastic bottle pollutionWe’ve looked at the water bottle pollution on land, but what about the ocean? Most plastic bottles end up in the sea. Have you ever heard of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s the worlds’ biggest ‘landfill’ found in the North Pacific Ocean. It’s the great afterlife of the plastic bottle, among other plastics debris.

It has been referred to as Trash Island, but Marine Biologist dismisses this as an unhelpful description. The plastic bottles are less like an island than a galaxy. If it was all in one place: ” We could just go out there and scoop up an island,”[2] says Marine Biologist Holly Bamford. She and her colleagues have discovered that much of the plastic bottle pollution is below the surface of the ocean. Researchers performed an exercise whereby seven-hundred pieces of plastic, the bulk of which were bottles, were picked up from one square kilometre of the sea.

plastic bottle pollution at sea

Plastic Bottle Pollution Affecting our Health

When a person drinks from a plastic bottle, they ingest chemicals that have seeped into its contents. Many toxic chemicals go into the manufacturing of bottles and as a by-product of the process. This is especially ironic in the case of bottled water. The world’s utilization of bottled water more than doubles every ten years, ensuring its position as the world’s fastest-rising commercial beverage. Plastic bottle pollution from bottled water, in particular, is a growing problem.

Bisphenol-A is one such chemical mentioned above. It leeches into the contents of the plastic bottle. (Better known as BPA.) BPA imitates hormones in our bodies and is implicated in a variety of health complaints. For example, breast and prostate cancer. Bottled water and other products are safer and more environmentally friendly when bottled in glass, not plastic. However, the costs of glass can be prohibitive, or at least non-competitive with plastic.

“Bottled water may be an industry winner, but it’s an environmental loser,” says Ling Li; Worldwatch

[1] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences; Plastics 


[2] Holly Bamford, former director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program.

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