ACCORDING to Green Planet, “an online guide to making conscious choices that help people animals and the planet”, a total of 1,500 plastic bottles are consumed every second in the United States.
But the USA is not alone in slowly destroying its environment. According to SodaStream, the world-renowned maker of a consumer home carbonated product based on the principles of making a carbonated drink as originally invented by Guy Gilbey in 1903 - an average South African family of four uses 1,692 bottles and cans each year.
According to the latest figures, approximately 290 billion bottles around the world still end up in landfills every year.
Green Planet said this is a major problem for humans, the environment and animals on the planet. But, over and above the environmental hazards posed by plastic bottles, there are a number of health hazards.
One that needs to be addressed, according to the watchdog organization, is that plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make the plastic hard and clear.
BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which has been proven to be hazardous to human health. Green Planet states that this substance has been undeniably linked to a host of health problems, including types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labour, and defects in newborn babies – to focus on just a few examples.
BPA enters the body through exposure to plastics such as bottled drinks and cleaning products. What is also alarming is that it has been found in large amounts in high-risk groups such as pregnant women’s placentas and growing fetuses.
A recent study conducted found that 96% of women in the USA have BPA in their bodies.
Research also shows that BPA has other dangerous side-affects - and it is believed that it can even lead to mutation in fish species.
If this is true, SodaStream believes the world needs to realize that the aftermath of plastic bottles is not just a huge environmental issue – but a health one as well.
It is perhaps reassuring to note that many politicians and business leaders –and many countries – are starting to take the green issue seriously. SodaStream, as a company, is hoping that this growing sentiment will increasingly spill over to one of the biggest environmental disasters facing the planet – the scourge of plastic bottles.”
Every year SodaStream provides 600 million liters of carbonated beverages to more than 8 million households, making it one of the largest beverage companies in the world.
If South African households were to adopt the SodaStream carbonated system, and were to drink its sparking soft drinks - as well as normal water-based beverages in the company’s PET bottles - 5,078 plastic bottles and cans, per family, could reduce this figure over a three year period.
The SodaStream bottles are BPA free and do not use any polycarbonate materials that produce phthalates or PCBs, ensuring a human friendly product. One of the most sobering thoughts is that even if you chop a plastic bottle up into tiny pieces, it still takes around 450 years to decompose.