Bottled water was the talk of the Internet last week when Concord, MA decided to make PET water bottles public enemy No. 1. The town passed a bylaw that bans the sale of single-serving PET bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in Concord, and stores could be fined up to $50 for violating the ban.
This bylaw must receive approval from the attorney general, but the news stirred emotion from both sides of the debate.
While plastic water bottles are commonly viewed as the healthy alternative over soda for consumers, concerns about landfill waste have sparked outcry and various bans across the country.
More than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. While the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 27%.
Ralph Vasami, executive director of the PET Resin Association (PETRA) told PlasticsToday education about recycling and reusing plastics and other packaging materials is key to reducing waste.
PET is the most recycled plastic in the U.S. and the world, he said. It can be recovered and recycled again and again, and is accepted by virtually every municipal recycling program in North America.
"We desperately need to educate consumers to place PET plastic bottles in the recycling bin, not the trash can," he said.
Recycling just one pound of PET bottles saves more than 26,000 BTUs of energy, according to the EPA Waste Reduction Model.
Vasami said he believes many Americans assume PET can only be recovered and recycled into non-food items such as carpet, clothing and engineering applications.
"PET bottles can and are being recycled to meet the same hygienic standards as virgin PET to create new PET bottles and containers," he said.