- New data from England's national Recycle Now campaign suggests that 16 million plastic bottles — about 44% of the total used — are not recycled on a daily basis in the U.K., as reported by The Guardian.
- Recycle Now estimates that 29 billion of these bottles could be wasted by the end of 2020. The campaign has begun raising awareness about the "unusual suspects," such as bottles of kitchen or bathroom cleaning products, that people may not realize are recyclable.
- In Ontario, Canada, a discussion around water permits for bottled water companies has led to a debate about recycling rates for the products. Nestle says 70-75% of water bottles are recycled in Ontario, but the nonprofit Polaris Institute estimates the number may be closer to 14%.
This attention on plastic bottles comes as both Canada and the U.K. are looking for ways to boost recycling rates which have lagged in multiple categories. The recycling rate for PET bottles in the U.S. dipped in 2015 to 30.1%, due in part to an increase in bottled water sales, but national data continues to show they're among the most recycled plastic products.
Despite what some have called a "recycling recession," these bottles are still seen as a more profitable option in the industry and increasing their diversion rates is a priority. That being said, recyclers and municipalities can only control consumer behavior to a certain point. Recent surveys and studies have shown that while the majority of people have access to some form of recycling program for their plastic bottles the incentive to participate isn't as strong as it could be.
In reaction to this, the concept of limiting, banning or taxing the use of plastic water bottles in particular has been gaining traction among environmental groups. This has faced pushback in national parks, due to the high volume of potential customers companies would be losing out on, and in countries such as Indonesia where access to clean water isn't guaranteed.