In the summer of 2017, the world’s largest mineral water producer in the Pacific Northwest announced a plan to reduce its use of plastic bags by 80 percent.
The plan was announced in partnership with the Washington State Parks Foundation.
The goal: To make more of our water more sustainable.
But the initiative is in danger of becoming a poster child for a new environmental movement that’s rapidly emerging around the world.
This movement aims to end the plastic bag revolution by using a new and better way to store and recycle plastic: recycled water.
“We have this tremendous opportunity to make our water safer and more sustainable,” said David Wiebe, director of environmental and sustainability programs at Washington State.
Wiebe has been in the water department for more than 30 years, and he’s seen how quickly the plastic-bag revolution has taken off.
He said in recent years, the plastic bags used to store food, bottles, and other items have gotten smaller, and the bags have gotten more durable.
“We can’t just take our plastic out,” he said.
But Wieb has noticed that plastic bags have become a growing problem.
Plastic bags are often used to cover food containers, and are not recyclable at all.
Instead, the bags are shipped to retailers like Walmart and Costco where they end up in a landfill.
Wiebec said this is an issue that affects everyone.
“This plastic is going to end up on our doorstep,” he explained.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is, What is the plastic that we’re putting in our trash?”
In the Pacific NorthWest, water managers say plastic bags are an especially large source of waste.
The region has an estimated one billion plastic bags per year, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 70 percent of these plastic bags end up going to landfills.
The water department is currently in the process of transitioning from a traditional plastic bag to a reusable, compostable version.
The process is expected to take about six months, and it will involve adding a plastic recycling bin to each store’s trash.
Wybe said the goal is to eliminate plastic bags from water by 2040.
That’s when the water quality will improve enough to allow us to recycle it.