Every year, a staggering number of plastic bottles end up not being recycled, contributing to the global plastic waste crisis. While specific statistics can vary, here are some estimates to highlight the magnitude of the issue:
- Globally, it is estimated that around 91% of plastic waste is not recycled. This means that only a small fraction, approximately 9%, of plastic waste is actually recycled.
- According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced globally every year, and a significant portion of this waste consists of plastic bottles.
- United States: In the United States, the production of plastic bottles for water is eye-wateringly large. In 2020, approximately 45 billion plastic water bottles were produced for consumption in the country.
- Europe: In Europe, the production of plastic water bottles is also substantial. In 2020, it is estimated that the European region produced over 90 billion plastic bottles for water and other beverages.
- In the United States alone, over 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away each year, with only about 25% of them being recycled. This means that approximately 75% of plastic bottles in the US end up in landfills, incinerators, or as litter.
- In the European Union, it is estimated that less than 30% of plastic bottles are recycled, while the rest are discarded.
- Developing countries often face even greater challenges in recycling plastic bottles due to inadequate waste management systems and infrastructure. As a result, a significant portion of plastic bottles in these regions is likely to go unrecycled.
The accumulation of unrecycled plastic bottles has severe environmental consequences, including pollution of land, waterways, and oceans, harming wildlife and ecosystems. It is essential to address this issue through increased recycling efforts, waste reduction, and the adoption of sustainable alternatives, such as plumbed-in water coolers, to minimise the production and disposal of plastic bottles.
Whilst not all countries globally have a reliable mains water supply, here in the UK mains water is some of the safest in the world, and the elimination of bottled water is something that many businesses and schools can easily achieve.