The environmental effects of plastic water bottles

Posted on February 06 2020

The environmental effects of plastic water bottles

 

Plastic pollution has reached epidemic levels, with millions of tonnes of disposable single-use plastics contaminating our oceans each year.

Water bottles are one of the biggest contributors to this plastic waste mountain. In 2016, the world consumed around 480 billion plastic water bottles. That’s 1 million water bottles used in a minute, 20,000 used every second.

It is estimated that only half of those bottles get recycled, leaving 240 billion bottles ending up in landfills or the ocean. A study by the Economic Forum shows that by 2050 the world's oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

Plastic can take up to 400 years to fully biodegrade in saltwater. It only takes a few years for that plastic to break down into tiny particles (microplastics) which are then ingested by fish and other marine life. Eventually, these microplastics find their way into the food chain.

Plastic waste is not just a problem for marine life, it poses serious consequences to human health as well. 

How does plastic affect marine life?

Microplastics aren’t the only things adding to the global epidemic. Plastic causes life-threatening conditions for wildlife long before it breaks down into micro-particles.

Sea turtles are consuming twice as much plastic – not solely in its microplastic form - today as they did 25 years ago. A recent worldwide study found that plastic kills around 100,000 sea turtles and seabirds each year.

Most animal deaths are caused by ingesting plastic. When plastic is ingested by marine animals, it often results in malnutrition, while also posing physical barriers that interfere with other organs and bodily functions. This plastic build-up in the stomach effectively causes the animal to slowly starve to death or be harmed from the inside.

Entanglement is also a major issue - large fish and turtles can easily get entangled in waste plastic, which prevents them from swimming freely, causing them to drown, causing them to get caught onto their surroundings, or in many cases lead to death.

Small fish and crustaceans can also find their way into plastic bottles seeking shelter, only to find they are trapped once inside. Because many plastic bottles are translucent, fish and other marine life can’t see where the entrance to the bottle is once they’ve entered it.

How you can reduce single-use plastic in your workplace?

With up to 8 million tonnes of plastics getting dumped into the ocean each year, the only way we can solve the problem is by changing our lifestyle and moving away from disposable culture.

These changes don’t have to be big. Some of the most effective changes will make little to no difference to our lives but will have a massive impact on the amount of plastic waste we create.

Reusable glassware or reusable drinking bottles are one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing our dependence on single-use plastic. When combined with a filtered water cooler, which can provide cold drinking water, reusable glassware or reusable bottle can greatly reduce the amount of disposable plastic we use each day.

Another plus to setting your office, family, or team up with a filter is that units can be plumbed into your water supply, cutting down on disposable water bottle deliveries, purchasing, and consumption; further prevention of plastic waste and also contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Your contribution to environmental sustainability can start with finding the right water cooler for your team and your family. Give us a call or browse our store to find out how you can become an Aqua Cooler legend today!

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