Our planet is facing an unprecedented climate and biodiversity crisis fueled in part by runaway plastic production.
Among the most notorious culprits are single-use plastic bottles. Single use plastic bottles are an ecological nightmare, wreaking havoc on our ecosystems, wildlife and human health.
As the world grapples with the dire consequences of the plastic pollution crisis and as governments continue Global Plastics Treaty negotiations, the call to ban single-use plastic bottles grows louder and more urgent. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we banned plastic bags in 2019 which was a monumental win for people and the planet, now we must band together again by banning single use plastic bottles and implementing refill and reuse solutions.
The devastation of the plastic pollution crisis.
Single-use plastic bottles are a major contributor to the global plastic pollution crisis that’s endangering marine life, polluting our oceans, and suffocating our natural landscapes. These bottles take hundreds of years to decompose, releasing harmful chemicals into the environment during their slow breakdown.
The impact on marine ecosystems is particularly devastating, as marine animals are ingesting plastic objects and microplastics, some of which result in death like the majestic toroa which died after swallowing a whole plastic bottle.
Microplastics are also an issue. Research from the University of Auckland shows 74 metric tonnes of microplastics are dispersed onto Auckland every year. The research found the equivalent of three million plastic bottles falling from the sky onto Auckland.
Research in the U.K. showed that even in the process of plastic recycling micro plastics were shed. It’s just another reason on the long list of reasons why we won’t be able to recycle our way out of this mess. The only way to address plastic pollution and runaway plastic production is to stop it at source. And we should start with the obvious: plastic beverage containers.
Energy and resource intensive production.
Producing plastic bottles requires vast amounts of fossil fuels and natural resources. From extraction to manufacturing, transportation, and disposal, the life cycle of these bottles generates a significant carbon footprint. By banning single-use plastic bottles, we can conserve energy and resources.
The proliferation of plastic bottles also presents a monumental challenge for waste management systems. Recycling is a false solution with only 9% of all plastics ever created having been recycled. A significant percentage of plastic bottles end up in landfills, incinerators, or littering our landscapes. This exacerbates the strain on waste management infrastructure.
Beyond the visible environmental impact, the use of single-use plastic bottles also poses potential health risks. These bottles can leach harmful chemicals into the liquids they contain, especially when exposed to heat or sunlight.
Refill and reuse solutions are needed!
Thankfully, viable alternatives to single-use plastic bottles already exist, offering us a pathway to a more sustainable future. Reuse and refill solutions are a throwback to past generations. Reusable water bottles made from stainless steel, glass, or other durable materials can significantly reduce our reliance on plastic. Additionally, the availability of water-refilling stations in public spaces and workplaces can encourage individuals to adopt these reusable alternatives.
We have the power to create change.
As consumers, we possess a remarkable ability to drive change through our choices. By opting for reusable alternatives and supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability, we can send a powerful message to industries and governments alike. Collectively, our actions can influence market trends and policy decisions, accelerating the transition to a world free from single-use plastic bottles.
People power works and when we all come together to demand change, we win! This was evident when we worked together to call on the government to ban plastic bags, and in 2019, we won.
More than 132,000 people in Aotearoa New Zealand are calling for single use plastic bottles to be banned and reuse and refill solutions to be implemented.
The time has come for a decisive shift away from the convenience of single-use plastic bottles. The undeniable environmental, economic, and health consequences of these bottles necessitate immediate action. By embracing reusable alternatives, supporting legislative efforts, and fostering a global culture of sustainability, we can chart a course toward a cleaner, healthier, and more harmonious planet for generations to come.
Banning single-use plastic bottles is not just a choice; it’s a responsibility we owe to our planet and future generations.
Call on the NZ Government to ban unnecessary single-use plastic bottles* in NZ, and to incentivise reusable and refillable alternatives.