This article was last updated on 12/29/2022.
With plastic pollution and poor waste management on the rise, it’s more critical than ever for organizations to find opportunities to introduce eco-friendly initiatives. And businesses today are increasingly turning their focus to minimizing their reliance on single-use plastics. For workplaces trying to improve their sustainability efforts, we’ve compiled tips from our Quench Water Experts on how your team members can reduce, reuse, and recycle water bottle waste.
Plastic and the Workplace
For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise, and the trend is expected to continue. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that the amount of plastic waste produced globally is on track to almost triple by 2060. This uptick can be attributed to plastics’ attractive qualities:
- Relatively inexpensive
However, plastic materials are durable and very slow to degrade — ultimately becoming waste with staying power. Today, environmentalists are referring to the global plastic pollution problem as an epidemic, and workplaces are a considerable part of the issue.
Between bottles, bags, and plastic packaging, workplaces can quickly accumulate a significant amount of plastic materials. For reference, Grand View Research notes the average person uses 156 plastic bottles each year, with Americans throwing away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, according to to Recycle Across America. Although these bottles are recyclables, they have overall recycling rates of 29.1% and 29.3%, respectively.
Encouraging Employees To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Reduce Plastic Water Bottle Use
The most effective way to reduce waste in the workplace is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy. In one year, the manufacturing of plastic water bottles burns about 6 million gallons of fuel and releases approximately 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So, even when recycling plastic beverage bottles, the initial production of the products has already caused a negative impact on the environment.
To mitigate plastic waste, workplaces can limit the amount of water employees drink from a single-use plastic water bottle or a 5-gallon plastic water jug by introducing a bottleless water cooler.
Reuse Water Bottles
Once a product is produced — and the environmental impact of manufacturing that product has already culminated — the next best way to reduce waste is to reuse the product. However, some products like single-use plastic water bottles might not be safely reusable. Why is this? Disposable water bottles can be made of bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an industrial chemical added to plastic to make it stronger and according to Environmental Research, this has been linked to:
- Liver and prostate cancer
- Heart disease
- Cognitive problems
Moreover, chemicals can leach from the recycled bottles into the water if they were subjected to heat. Because of this, experts don’t recommend refilling single-use plastic water bottles. Luckily, for workplaces in pursuit of reusable options that won’t impact employee health, there are safe alternatives to consider, including:
- BPA-free plastic reusable water bottles
- Aluminum reusable water bottles
- Glass bottles
Recycle Water Bottles
When reducing or reusing a product won’t work, then recycling bottles, caps, and cans when possible is a beneficial option. Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.
Not all products can be recycled at work, but here is a list of items you can typically recycle:
Bottled water production and consumption are a detriment to environmental protection. While global plastic waste is anticipated to triple, less than half gets recycled — meaning most of this waste ends up in our waterways and landfills. By recycling plastic water bottles, you’re eliminating the need for additional plastic to be produced. Workplaces can encourage this with a recycling bin or an ongoing program to promote these actions moving forward.
Promoting Sustainability With a Bottleless Water Dispenser
To considerably reduce plastic waste, workplaces can stop using single-use plastic water bottles or 5-gallon plastic water jugs altogether and make the switch to a Quench filtered water cooler for clean, great-tasting drinking water that will positively impact the planet today and every day.
A bottleless dispenser from Quench, also referred to as a point-of-use (POU) water cooler, connects directly to a building’s existing water line and delivers water straight from the municipal tap water supply. This water has been filtered and then chilled or heated within the water cooler. Some point-of-use water coolers can even dispense sparkling, flavored water, or ice.
Bottleless water coolers differ greatly from a traditional, 5-gallon water cooler in that the water is filtered on-site, right in the machine, rather than pre-filtered and bottled at an off-site manufacturing plant and then delivered to a business. This reduces the waste of plastic water bottles and reduces the production and distribution pollution associated with plastic bottles or plastic 5-gallon jug delivery service, including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from delivery trucks.
Although water jug delivery services encourage customers to return their plastic bottles so that they can inspect, clean, sanitize, and refill them for reuse, they can only be refilled on average about 40 times before needing to be discarded due to damage from wear and tear. Ideally, these plastic bottles would be recycled, but studies show that less than 30% of plastic beverage bottles purchased in the U.S are recycled each year, and only about 70% of the plastic material can be used in the recycling process.
Our Mission at Quench
As we reach a record amount of pollution on our planet, we each need to do our part to help save the environment that we all know and love. At Quench, enhancing the sustainability efforts of our customers is a core value of our service. We help our customers eliminate the use of bottled drinking water delivery services and the incumbent fossil fuel depletion, carbon emissions, and additional plastic waste by filtering a building’s existing water supply at the point-of-use via a bottleless water cooler.
A standard Quench water cooler prevents approximately 150 five-gallon plastic water jugs from ending up in landfills and waterways each year and reduces all the associated production and transportation pollution. By adding a Quench water cooler to your business, you are taking the next step in becoming an eco-friendlier. To learn more about our commitment to eco-friendly initiatives, check out our Environmental Sustainability Mission Statement.