Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Save the environment or save the economy? The brewing battle over bottled water could kill jobs

For more than a few years environmentalists have fueled a movement to ban or significantly reduce consumer use of bottled water. Dozens of universities and municipalities have already taken action to curb bottle water use. But the impact of such a ban on the U.S. economy, especially in the current economic climate, could be significant. “It could be massively destructive for the industry,” said Tom Lauria, spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association. More than 150,000 jobs in the water bottle industry could be at risk, and billions of dollars of exports of polyethylene terephthalate, a primary ingredient used to produce water bottles, could also be at risk. The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) said 1.4 billion pounds of PET were collected for recycling in 2009. Of that, 780 million pounds was exported, mainly to China, which purchased 726 million pounds of PET. Kate Eagles, NAPCOR’s communications director said, “Valuable plastic material gets used in domestic products in China; it’s not waste and it’s not garbage and that sometimes gets glossed over.” Eagles added, “They [China] have a huge appetite for recycled plastic. They have a huge population and they don’t have a lot of natural resources.” Translation: China is paying U.S. companies more than $7 billion to recycle our waste...more

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