It's the biggest selling beverage by the bottle, next to soda. We're talking about bottled water. In 2006, people in the United States consumed more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water. That number grows by 10% every year. But all those empty bottles are bad for the environment.
At the Monroe County Recycling Center, you will find a lot of plastic. "In January we saw 69 tons of that material come through the door here," says Kimmie Romeo. She is an educator at the center.
Water bottles are made out of PET plastic. It has the same properties as polyester. So, when it's recycled it can be made into new things like carpet. When it's not recycled, it ends up in the landfill, where it sits for years and years.
National statistics show that out of every 10 water bottles that are sold, only two end up coming to a recycling center. Some believe if there was a deposit on water bottles, more would be returned and recycled. Governor Spitzer says he supports legislation that would add the deposit, but so far a bill hasn't been passed.
Some groups like the Sierra Club, are trying to get people to stop buying bottled water all together. They are concerned about safety. The FDA says guidelines for bottled water aren't as strict as they are for tap water. They are also worried about the environment.
Sierra Club member Holly Wheeler says, "environmentally it's problematic because we use 1.5 million barrels of oil a year to produce bottled water. Plus then we transport it which is more gas. The bottled water industry produces 1.5 million tons of plastic a year most of which is not recycled."
Some water bottle makers are trying to use less plastic. Poland springs has come out with what they call and eco-shape bottle. It uses 30% less plastic than their previous bottles.