With 38 million going to U.S. landfills annually, should single use plastic water bottles really be winning awards?
When Nestlé first launched their "Eco-Shape" PET plastic water bottle a few years back, the 15 percent reduction in plastic used (as compared to the average for .5 liter plastic bottles) in the bottle was hardly enough to garner the "eco" prefix. In fact, I thought the bottle--and the marketing campaign that went along with it--was a laughable and blatantly transparent example of greenwashing.
So when Nestlé announced it would be receiving an award for the Eco-Shape bottle, I must admit that I threw up in my mouth a little.
But the 2010 Gold Connecticut Quality Improvement Award's Innovation Prize was not given to Nestlé for the old 12.3-gram Eco-Shape bottle introduced in 2007, it was given for the new-and-improved second generation Eco-Shape bottle, which weighs an average of 9.3 grams and uses 25 percent less PET plastic than its predecessor and 60 percent less PET than the company's pre-Eco-Shape PET bottle. The new bottles use 30 percent less PET than other bottle designs of the same size.
But considering that 80 percent of plastic bottles are never recycled and 38 million plastic bottles go to the dump annually in the U.S. alone, I'm not comfortable with an "eco" designation being attached to any plastic bottle, even if the bottle is lighter, and uses less plastic and paper than other bottles of the same size.
Now I'm not necessarily knocking Nestlé for the packaging "advancement." In fact, the company claims that the Eco-Shape is credited with reducing Nestlé Waters' carbon emission equivalents by more than 356,000 tons since 2007. The company also boasts the fact that the new bottle's label is 35 percent smaller than the previous label, saving nearly 10 million pounds of paper annually.
Taken at face value, the advancements in material efficiency in the new Nestlé bottle are a good thing. But just because the package uses less plastic--and is cheaper to produce and transport--does not mean Nestlé should be slapping an "eco" on it.
And it definitely doesn't mean they should be winning any awards.