- PET bottles are commonly used for soft drinks and mineral water
- Over 480 billion of PET bottles sold last year: Euromonitor International
- The EU has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items by 2021
Around the world, almost 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute. As the environmental impact of that tide of plastic becomes a growing political issue, major packaged goods sellers and retailers are under pressure to cut the flow of the single-use bottles and containers that are clogging the world’s waterways. Plastic production has surged in the last 50 years, leading to widespread use of inexpensive disposable products that are having a devastating effect on the environment. Images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are commonly used for soft drinks and mineral water, but can also be used in other household or personal care products. Data from Euromonitor International, shows that more than 480 billion of these bottles were sold last year alone.
That’s almost 1 million every minute, as shown in the animation at the top of this page. The illustrations below show what that pile of plastic would look like if it was collected over a longer period of time.
Rosemarie Downey, global head of packaging research at Euromonitor International, told Reuters that adopting circular design principles in packaging, which considers the entire life cycle of a product, including use and reuse, is one way for brands to address surplus waste at the outset and can assist recovery, recycling, and reuse in order to reduce the damaging impact of plastic waste in the environment.
However, the responsibility to address the problem goes beyond the manufacturers.
Ultimately, mindful consumption of plastic is a global duty of everyone. Consumers have their part to play to help realise zero-litter, as do corporate players in their use and handling and governments in providing the necessary, optimised waste management infrastructure, Ms. Downey said.
The EU has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030.
Such moves are setting up a showdown with the oil industry, which is pouring billions into new facilities to produce more plastic and other petrochemical products, particularly in Asia, the world’s biggest producer of the material and its waste.
Despite environmental concerns, plastic output seems poised to increase.