Why Plastic Bottles?
Remix Plastic’s Kōwhai earrings are tipped with brown plastic laser cut from single-use bottles. Like ice cream container lids, which are not collected by local recycling services, there are also problems with single-use plastic bottles - even though they are a type of packaging we confidently throw into our recycling bins thinking that the environmental impact is small.
Even though plastic bottles can be easily recycled we need to consider whether it is a good idea to make a disposable product from limited resources. This is a prime example of a take, make, waste linear economy: we take scarce resources from the ground, make a product designed to be used once and then throw it out. Remix Plastic supports a circular economy in which products are used again and again - conserving resources and reducing waste.
Every year in NZ we throw away more than 1 billion plastic bottles - and most of these are made from virgin, not recycled, plastic. The plastic used (PET, resin code 1) is made from petroleum which we all know is a limited resource and a major contributor to climate change. The manufacture of the bottles uses a horrendous amount of water - an estimated 5.3 liters per bottle! And the numbers being produced are significant - PET plastic makes up 10.2% of global plastic production.
But what if I reuse my plastic bottle? Unfortunately PET plastic is not suitable for reuse. The plastic leaches chemicals into the liquid if exposed to heat, i.e. if you leave it in the sun and a recent study showed that all bottled water contained microplastics. So don’t use that old Pump bottle as your refillable drink bottle!
At the end of its short working life the plastic used for drink bottles is theoretically easily recycled but with 20,000 plastic bottles being produced every minute there’s no way recycling facilities can keep up. In reality only 7% of bottles are collected and turned into new products. Most end up in landfill or the ocean, where bottles join plastic bags as part of the top two most dangerous ocean pollutants.
In addition, most of NZ’s recycling goes off shore so your fizzy bottle is likely producing yet more carbon emissions as it travels to a recycling plant across oceans.
Single-use plastic bottles are embedded with huge amounts of pollution from their manufacture as well as potential pollution from their end-of-life. They embody the disposable attitude that causes many current environmental problems including climate change, water scarcity and plastic pollution.
Remix Plastic’s Kōwhai earrings use a tiny amount of plastic, they weren’t created to solve the plastic bottle problem, nor to relieve feelings of guilt about single-use plastic bottles. They are a means to tell the story of plastic bottles. Whenever you wear them you have an opportunity to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to choose to reuse!
Things you need to know when you talk to your friends about your kowhai earrings:
- 1 billion plastic bottles are thrown away in NZ every year
- Only 7% of plastic bottles are ever recycled into new products
- It takes 5.3 litres of water to make a plastic water bottle
- You can refill your water bottles for free at cafes around NZ. Check out where at https://refillnz.org.nz/
- Sign the Greenpeace petition to ban plastic bottles