Suffolk County’s Water Authority is giving away 10,000 reusable bottles in an attempt to wean its customers away from bottled water – while at the same time, the bottled water industry suggests their plastic waste isn’t really a problem.
Put on your hip boots; this promises to get a little deep. First:
The authority launched a program yWednesday to encourage residents to
drink tap water by offering free reusable sport water bottles.
Agency officials said tap water is cheaper than bottled water — for
$1.46, roughly the cost of one 20-ounce bottle of water at a deli, you
can get 1,000 gallons of Suffolk tap water. Suffolk tap water is of
high quality because of rigorous testing, they said, and drinking it is
environmentally friendly because that reduces the number of plastic
water bottles that end up in landfills.
Naturally, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) – the bottled water industry trade group – doesn’t see it the same way.
In fact, they try to suggest that removing 1.2 million tons of plastic from the waste stream (about 1.5 million tons are used annually by the bottled water industry) is hardly worth the hassle:
A spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, an
industry trade group based in Alexandria, Va., disputed that, saying
plastic water bottles were a very small part of the landfill problem.
“Bottled water containers make up only one-third of 1 percent of the U.S. waste stream,” said Tom Lauria.
“There’s a whole lot that needs to be recycled to make a difference,”
he said, adding the industry was stepping up recycling efforts and
urging Suffolk to do the same.
Without even challenging the “one-third of 1 percent” claim, I’d like to welcome you to the IBWA’s Bizarro World, where we’re better off if we create plastic waste before recycling a small fraction of it.
Approximately 1.5 million tons of plastic are consumed each year by the bottled water industry, and various estimates suggest 80%-90% of it ends up in landfills – where it will stay for a good 1000 years.
The IBWA says 1.2 million tons of plastic isn’t enough to matter.
We say it’s a good start.