Today’s Drink, Tomorrow’s Bicycle: A Refreshing Take on Packaging Waste

Nowadays with the rapid development of technology, more and more materials can be recycled and given a chance to become something new. This behaviour has a lot of benefits, such as reducing energy consumption and reducing the amount of waste we produce, which are important aspects of protecting the environment around us. 

  • Did You Know? It can take 1000 years for one plastic bottle to decompose

-POP

PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most common type of polyester used for making plastic bottles. What people don’t usually know is that it is also a valuable resource. So what happens with the bottle after you have drunk your water? Well…. If you just throw it away, it ends up in a landfill where it takes 500 to 1000 years to decompose buried underground. But there is another option! You can collect the bottles and take them to the collection point or toss them into a labeled recycling bin. That way, the bottles can be recycled and get a new life as fiber for carpets, fabric for t-shirts/fleece, winter coats or automotive parts. To see another innovative recycling initiative, check out this video from Nike on how seven bottles are turned into football shirt.

  • Did You Know? The recycling rate for plastic bottles in Germany is 98.5%

In Germany, 98.5% of refillable bottles are being returned by consumers, which is the highest rate in the world. The average recycling rate of Europe is approximately 60%, which leaves a lot of room for improvement. Most of the European countries use deposit return system for reusable packaging. The system starts with a deposit, a small fee paid by the the consumer, when you buy a beverage in a bottle. The system ends with a return when the consumer takes the bottle to the collection point for recycling and gets the fee back. You can read more about this practical system in Estonia. Recycling one plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W bulb for up to 6 hours.

  • Did you know? 250 billion aluminium cans are used globally every year

25,000,000,000 is definitely a striking number. But even more impressive  is that you can canrecycle aluminium an infinite number of times without losing quality. In Europe, the main advocate and source for aluminium advocacy and research is the European Aluminium Association. They have set the target for 2020 that 80% of aluminium cans will be recycled, the rate is currently approximately 70%. Recycling aluminium saves up to 95% of energy used for production from raw material and also conserves a lot of natural resources. Energy saved with recycling one aluminium can is enough to watch television for three hours.

  • Did You Know? One recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes

Production of glass packaging needs huge amount of natural resources. Furthermore, it is not known how long it takes a glass bottle thrown into nature to decompose, because nobody has not observed it for so long, so it may never break down. Nevertheless, recycling glass has many positive effects. Glass packaging is infinitely recyclable like aluminium and the process does not create any additional waste or by-products.

  • Did You Know? You can create change in three easy steps

Reduce: avoid buying your beverages in the new packages and use reusable containers instead. This is the most important “R” because it minimizes waste in the first place.

Reuse: there are thousand of ideas on recycling bottles and cans available from a quick Google search that you can try yourself. Check some out some creative solutions here and here.

Recycle: collect your bottles and cans and sort them appropriately at the nearest collection point or recycle bin in your home or your city.

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Every individual can reduce the amount of waste ending up in nature and increase the rate of recycling. Remember, the aluminum can you drank out of yesterday, can be the rim of your bicycle tomorrow!

Sources:
1. National Association for PET Container Resources
2. European Aluminium Association
3. Glass Packaging Institute

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