How Long Are Plastic Water Bottles In Landfills?

April 21st, 2014

This makes me so angry and sad…water bottle pollutionImage via Horia Varlan (Flickr)

How Long Are Plastic Water Bottles In Landfills?

Indefinitely. That is how long plastic water bottles are in landfills. These bottles do not biodegrade; they do not break down and go away. They sit in landfills and pollute our soil and our air. If you toss a plastic water bottle into your trash after you are done with it, you will find that water bottle in the landfill that became its final resting place as long as 1,000 years from now. I’m not kidding. I know you might be blinking at your computer screen thinking, “Lynn. That’s impossible. Everything has to decompose at some point,” and I wish that were true. Unfortunately, most plastic water bottles do not decompose, and this is why they are becoming such a huge environmental problem.

We’ve all said it, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” and the same can be said about plastic bottles for consumer packaging. Glass bottles are heavy; glass bottles break. Consumers needed something that was easier to handle and didn’t end up costing them an entire bottle of juice, for example, if they dropped the bottle and broke it. We work hard for our money and many of us need to make it stretch. You drop a glass bottle of juice and you’ve lost an entire bottle of juice, plus the money you spent on it. You drop a plastic bottle of juice and, provided the cap is still on, you haven’t lost the juice or the money. Great idea, right? Not so fast.

We all danced for joy when plastic bottling came out, and many of us danced more emphatically when bottled water came out. What is easier than grabbing a plastic bottle of water out of your refrigerator when you’re running out the door to keep you hydrated throughout your day? Hey, I understand the logic; I even jumped on the bandwagon… that is, until I noticed all of these plastic water bottles polluting the beaches, the lakes, the parks, all of our outdoor space. I realized that perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea after all, and I began to work in educating people about water.

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know that this where my passion lies, educating people about water and the issues surrounding it. At the top of that list of issues is the plastic water bottle. What began as a convenient way to chug down your H2O has become a problem of global proportions, and you know if you’ve been following my blog that I’m going to support this statement with facts. The truth about water bottles and landfills is:

  • The earth used, and ultimately threw away, 110 million tons of plastic in 2009.
  • The United States accounted for 33.6 million tons of that total.
  • Of the 33.6 million tons we toss away, only 6.5 percent is actually recycled and another 7.7 percent is turned into energy; more than three-quarters of that plastic is polluting our Earth.
  • It takes anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years for that plastic to biodegrade, if it biodegrades at all.
  • There is also approximately 100 million tons of plastic polluting our oceans.

The problem with this plastic sitting in landfills goes beyond us running out of landfill space. In fact:

What is more frightening than these facts and statistics is that bottled water sales are on the rise again, despite proof that bottled water is not better for you than properly filtered tap water. Couple that with less than 10 percent of the empty water bottles being recycled, and I can only hang my head in sorrow because, guess what? More of these water bottles are ending in landfills, or worse, polluting our land and water supplies, leaching deadly toxins into our environment while not biodegrading. It is so sad to think that this monumental and global problem is only becoming worse. How long are plastic water bottles in landfills? Indefinitely.

 

Written By: Lynn Taylor


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