Under dire circumstances — such as the extreme droughts currently ravaging the Pacific Islands — bottled water offers an essential, life-saving resource. In places like the U.K. or many parts of the U.S., however, that have access to plenty of potable water, it’s harder to make that argument. Regardless, the logistical feat of transporting and distributing such a high volume of bottled water is laudable, as are the efforts of many companies to shrink their environmental footprint in the process. In 2011, Coca-Cola led the sustainability charge with the introduction of a plastic bottle containing up to 30% organic material.
Unfortunately, infrastructural shortcomings and limited recycling often result in supply chain breakdowns, so beverage companies have little choice but to use new plastic for packaging. Still, a significant reduction in the weight of plastic bottles has resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin since 2000, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
It’s these types of concerted efforts and spirited campaigns to protect our planet that will secure the future of the beverage industry, as significant investments in things like recycling centers and eco-friendly bottles could push the industry to new heights in the fight for greater sustainability. We can’t wait to see what happens next.