Swapping plastic bottles for glass and cartons still environmentally damaging

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The average UK adult uses 150 single-use plastic water bottles per year

Swapping plastic bottled water for alternative materials could only be a fraction less damaging to the environment, new research from the Green Alliance has found.

The study found if bottled water sold in aluminium cans, glass bottles and cartons continues to increase, there could be more environmental consequences given the carbon emissions and production waste caused by each material.

It predicted this could lead to carbon emissions from glass bottles equalling the population of Bath per year or 9,000 bin lorries full of cartons which cannot be recycled back into containers.

The only low impact option is a refillable container given a refillable bottle only has to be used 15 times to have a lower carbon impact than a single-use alternative.

The amount of bottled water consumed in the UK has doubled in the past 15 years, with the average UK adult using 150 single-use plastic water bottles every year.

Over half of all single-use plastic bottles used in the UK are for water.

Libby Peake, senior policy adviser on resources at Green Alliance, said: “If we don’t need single use plastic water bottles, we also don’t need single-use cans, cartons, or glass bottles for water. The good news is, it’s easy to do the right thing when it comes to drinking water and the environment. Tap water in refillable containers is the most sustainable option and is hundreds of times cheaper to boot.”

Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focussing on the environment.

Colin Church, chair of the Circular Economy Task Force and chief executive of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, said: “Plastic pollution is a real environmental problem, but simply moving on to making single use items out of other materials isn’t always the right solution because they too will have drawbacks.”

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