The joint venture between the council, Wai Auckland, and RefillNZ aims to promote tap water as the first, easy, healthy, and environmentally-responsible choice for people. Not-for-profit organisation, RefillNZ, is a grassroots movement to prevent plastic pollution by making it easier to refill your reusable water bottle on the go.
Auckland Council’s Parul Sood, Programme Director – Waste Solutions, says supporting RefillNZ will benefit all Aucklanders and support council’s waste minimisation efforts. “It’s a positive environmental choice. We have been encouraging Aucklanders to support Plastic Free July and find ways to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic from our lives. It’s about taking steps that will make a big difference in reducing rubbish and help us reach zero waste to landfill by 2040.
“By joining forces with RefillNZ, we are letting our communities know they can confidently carry their own water bottle and choose tap water. Why not make carrying a reusable bottle the new normal,” Sood says.
While the convenience of being able to grab a drink bottle on the run may be seen as priceless, the cost on the environment is significant. Plastic bottles now make up one-third of all plastic pollution in the sea and are one of the biggest contributors to environmental damage globally. Each Kiwi uses on average 168 plastic bottles each year and only a third of those bottles are recycled. That means around 526 million bottles are thrown away yearly, adding to plastic pollution on our beaches and in our waterways.
Most bottled water and soft drinks are sold in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles. According to the Packaging Forum, the industry group responsible for packaging recycling programmes, nearly 14,000 tonnes of PET plastic were used to produce drinks containers in New Zealand last year. Not only does bottled water cost more than regular tap water, it also has associated costs to the environment. It takes three to five times more water to manufacture a plastic water bottle than is contained in the water bottle itself. Because plastic is a petroleum-based product, it depletes a non-renewable resource. Added to this, there is the cost of transporting the water from the source, to the bottling facility, to the shop, to your home.
According to Live Lightly, if you take your reusable drink bottle instead of buying a disposable one when you are out and about, that simple action could save 3kg of CO2 per year. Choosing a reusable drink bottle – glass or stainless steel are the safest and most earth-friendly options, but plastic reusable water bottles are more sustainable than buying and throwing out new bottles each day.
If using a plastic reusable bottle, it is important to hand wash it in warm, rather than hot, water. Avoid washing plastic items at high temperatures in an automatic dishwasher as it is detrimental to human health and should be avoided. Investing in a good quality reusable water bottle, glass or stainless steel, will save you money in the long term. Once you have it, be sure to keep it in your bag for those moments you need a drink on the run.
Auckland Council has been taking part in Plastic Free July – a worldwide challenge encouraging people to take small, daily actions to create long-lasting habits to minimise single-use plastic and improve recycling practices. For more details and tips on how to eliminate plastic from your life, visit plasticfreejuly.org.