Removing bottle waste – both glass and plastic – was one of the main drivers for developing the Vestal system.
Australians purchase more than 726 million litres of bottled water and discard more than 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles a year, of which a dismally low 30% are recycled. The remaining 82,600 tonnes (about the same in weight as 10,000 African elephants) is discarded into landfill, where each individual bottle will take around 1,000 years to break down.
Plastic bottles that end up in the ocean create a hazard for wildlife, and eventually disintegrate into miniscule microplastics, the impacts of which are yet to be fully understood. It is estimated that by 2050, the mass of plastic in the ocean will exceed that of fish.
Plastic is made from oil, which in turn is made from animal and plant organisms that lived 150 million years ago (i.e. in the Jurassic period) and is a finite resource. The manufacture and transport of bottled water in Australia requires over 460,000 barrels of oil each year.
Australians import water from as far away as Italy and France, over the oceans and through the air. All this contributes tonnes of greenhouse gases to the environment each year – just to contain a product that flows practically freely, from the tap.