Bottled water in compostable bottles?

Just as an FYI: A Montreal-based company called +1 Water, which sells bottled water, is claiming to be the first in Canada to sell its product in compostable plastic bottles made out of corn. They claim it’s a “socially responsible alternative for people who buy bottled water.” It calls into question, however, whether bottled water itself — if you ignore the bottle — is socially responsible. It reminds me of carbon offsets and how they help people feel less guilty about living a carbon-heavy, wasteful lifestyle. Curious to know what readers of this blog think?

Sure, it’s a great application of an emerging field of technology — bioplastics — but there’s something about this that makes me uneasy. Compostable plastic bags are one thing, but bottled water? Hmmm….

8 thoughts on “Bottled water in compostable bottles?”

  1. Ignoring the carbon footprint of transporting bottled water, are these bottles any better? In UK they are finding that the composting departments pull them out, whereas if they are left in the waste stream with the PET bottles they completely contaminate it. from a UK website: according to Paul Davidson, plastics technical manager at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), explained: “You don’t need too much PLA to mess PET up, especially if you want to recycle it back into a bottle. It will only take a few percent of PLA to make PET non-viable and that is just another concern for plastic reprocessors to deal with.” http://www.letsrecycle.com/materials/composting/news.jsp?story=6016

  2. I’m not a big fan of bottled water–I never get it at restaurants and sometimes bring a bottle of my own tap water around with me, but there will be times when you’re out and about and really want a drink of water. During hot weather, too, it can health implications, especially for the elderly. People should avoid bottled water whenever possible, but a little going around society is probably OK, we just need to find ways of reducing its footprint. This is a first step.

    The issue Lloyd raised about the different recycling streams is an interesting one. Some retailers are refusing bioplastic packaging on the grounds that people will inevitably not know what to do with it. Some people already can’t figure out how to sort their garbage, and the danger is that more complexity will just turn some (not very smart) people off the idea of recycling altogether. Besides, most people in most countries don’t have access to composting facilities. I don’t know what the “role” of biodegradation is in the context of a conventional landfill…source of methane, I guess.

    But taking the long view, I have hope that bioplastic will eventually fit into a low-waste society. The city of Toronto’s great success with its own household recycling/commposting program indicates that people aren’t always as dumb as they look, and that with good guidance they’ll get a handle on the recylcing/composting thing. Unfortunately people’s behaviour in public is not the same as at home, and water bottles are, tellingly, already one of the most common types of litter on the streets. We’ve got a long way to go, but ultimately I think bioplastic bottles will turn out to be a good thing.

  3. This is exactly the kind of article that I find myself torn on. On the one hand I really hate the idea of bottled water. It is really wasteful when you consider that tap water is often just fine. The transportation costs and packaging costs are an ecological nightmare. On the other hand I really love the idea of bioplastic and this is one idea that could really catch on.

    I was intrigued to hear about potential PET contamination it’s not something I have ever thought about. I think it is important to remember though that plastic can only be recycled so many times and bioplastic could help remedy waste issues.

  4. WOW! Bottled water in compostable bottles. Now the self absorbederatti make their bottled water fashion statement with guiltless littering or land filling.

  5. As of 2/28/8, does anyone know of the latest in what’s available in water in biodegradable bottles? I understand the Biota bottles aren’t that compostable. ?? Is there a new generation of biodegradeable bottles that composts better than Biota bottles do?

    gailrcampbell@hotmail.com

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