A New Twist on an Old Problem
The problem of single use plastic bottles is well documented. It is estimated that around 500 million plastic bottles are used across the world every year. About 60% of this is generated by single use plastic water bottles.
In an ideal world we would all avoid single use items and everybody would carry their own water bottle. However the U.S and Europe struggle to make significant progress against this measure so imagine how far away from achieving this a country like Brasil is.
As a nation only 1% of Brasil's waste is recycled and less than 7% of councils offer a recycling facility. So it is not surprising that the population isn't overly concerned with the problem of the plastic water bottle....
When combined with the fact that in Brasil's hot climate people want an ice cold drink as opposed to the tepid water from a bottle it would seem that little progress can or will be made in reducing plastic bottle wastage.
However, in the small town of Morretes in southern Brasil, a local water production company is daring to be different. Chris Loureiro, Product Development and Export Manager told me 'Brazil is a leader in aluminium recycling and that drove us to take advantage of this; and when combined with the solar energy generated by our plant this can take us further than any other bottler in the world.
Chris explained that he'd spent several years trying to find a viable alternative to plastic bottles, but without success.
During this research he discovered that despite Brasil's overall poor recycling record, it does lead the way in aluminium recycling. Brasil recycles an amazing 98% of it's aluminium cans, which equates to almost 15 billion cans annually. He therefore felt that canning water could be part of the solution to reduce plastic waste.
- The aluminium used in the cans has a minimum 70% recycled content.
- The bottling factory is powered by solar energy.
- The aluminium can will be recycled after use.
The project has not been without it's problems which the Serra do Atlântico Água Mineral team have had to overcome one at a time, with the biggest barrier being the cost, as to can water costs 3 times as much as bottling it. Chris realises that this is not the final solution, but it is an important step in the right direction.
The town of Morretes has a growing number of business' who are pushing a green agenda: Pousada Serra Verde is an Ecoclub Ecolodge, Morretes Preserva sells recycled and re-usable straws, cups and cutlery and Ekoa Park promotes environmental awareness and the the Atlantic Rainforest.
So as part of this growing green movement maybe Serra do Atlântico can start to change peoples water habits, one bottle at a time!