As more cities ban and contemplate bans of plastic containers, German research Company Ceresana has announced that the world will need over 46 million metric tons of plastic containers by 2021. Washington, D.C. is the latest city to ban polystyrene plastic containers, also known as Styrofoam containers, from fast food restaurants.
Starting in 2016, fast food restaurants will no longer be able to serve their wares in polystyrene containers. This ban is part of a larger push on Washington’s part to reform environmental policy in the District. D.C. is not the only city to introduce these kinds of bans. In San Francisco, all single use plastic bottles are not allowed, and Long Beach Township in New Jersey set up Hydration Stations for people to fill up their own reusable plastic bottles. These bans often include a plastic bag ban or plastic bag tax to avoid non-biodegradable plastic waste. Judging from Ceresana’s study, more needs to be done.
The German study details the differences between the way plastic containers are used by different global market region. Regional use of products like soft drink and bottled water drive up the use of these containers. In the developing world, bottled water in plastic bottles serves a real purpose. Where tap water is no good and must be boiled before use, bottled water saves time and work for people and is healthier than drinking tap water.
In America, though, there is a push to eliminate this reliance on one time use plastic bottles. Americans use up to 1000 plastic containers a second, with very few being recycled. Landfill waste has reached an all time high. Across the country, cities and private citizens have taken steps to eliminate their use. Trendy, reusable plastic bottles have hit a new high in popularity. Articles in publications like Good Housekeeping highlight their use, and they have become an everyday sight on the streets.
It appears that type of activity is spreading. Environmental crusaders in the Middle East have singled out the Kingdom of Jordan as a particularly egregious user of plastic bottles. In 2013 it was estimated that 20 percent of the 6 million tons of trash that Jordan generates every year is plastic. They also have a plastic bag problem, with each Jordanian citizen using around 2 plastic bags each day.
One of the reasons for the concern over plastic bottle use is the fact that these bottles tend to end up in landfills, and not recycled. The Container Recycling Institute estimates that in the United States over 60 million bottles are thrown away daily. And as the need for bottled water spreads, so does the trash. The CRI says that almost 300 million pounds of plastics for use in bottles was exported. Most of this ended up in Asia, which is one of the world’s fastest developing regions.
As plastic use rises world-wide, so do the calls to limit plastic use, or at least recycle. In the United States, many major cities offer curbside recycling programs to help cut down on the plastics going into landfills. More and more people have begun to use reusable plastic bottles to ensure that the global impact of plastics in landfills is mitigated.
By Bryan Levy