The plastic water bottles that humans generate every day are one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the environment. They take decades to decompose, releasing harmful substances and particles of microplastics into the ground and water, which then enter the human food chain via fish.
Recycling of plastic raw materials has become more active in the last decade, but if in economically developed countries they have time to recycle local garbage and still buy it from neighboring countries, in Ukraine the situation is much worse. More than 93% of waste goes to landfills, or even to spontaneous landfills.
Thanks to modern technology, everyone is able to reduce the amount of plastic waste. Reusable water bottles and filters can help: at home, in the office, at the gym, in vending machines and kiosks for filling purified water in the street. Today, we’ll understand what reusable water bottles are, what they’re made of, and the risks of using them.
What are some water bottles?
In modern stores you can find a variety of different water bottles and dispensers for every taste… Let’s take a look at the main options:
- With a wide neck and a lid that can be closed with a latch or screwed in;
- with a permanent tube, which will be convenient for children, providing a non-pouring effect;
- with a valve that opens on suction, which also ensures maximum tightness;
But the main issues that relate to the safety of water containers will be discussed below.
What are water bottles made of??
Our familiar disposable bottles are predominantly made from polyethylene. They are intended exclusively for disposable use, such plastic cannot be washed with aggressive detergents and heated above 70o C. Polyethylene is an inexpensive polymer that is produced in huge quantities around the world every day. Studies have shown that 90% of bottled water samples contain microplastics. It is certainly not as toxic as heavy metals or industrial organics, and not as carcinogenic as chlororganics, but it is definitely alien to the human body.
An alternative to traditional disposable water containers are reusable bottles, which are made of
- a variety of plastics;
Below we will consider in detail the advantages and disadvantages of each material, so that you can easily navigate the offerings on the market.
Plastic water bottles
This is probably the most common type of reusable containers for water, so we will start with it. Materials for production are different plastics, and, in this case, it is important to consider what kind of them the body of the container is made of. This is important, because not all manufacturers go through a full certification process and can guarantee safety for your health.;
Polypropylene – The cheapest but safest plastic for food containers. It withstands temperatures of 80-96oC, washing in the dishwasher and heating in the microwave oven. The only restriction – reusable water bottle should not be used more than 1 year. This is because the scratches on the surface of the plastic can harbor microorganisms.
Polycarbonate – This material is used to produce sports water bottles, 19-liter bottles, and baby bottles. The maximum temperature for products made of this material is 100oC, and they can be washed in the dishwasher. An important issue is the release of toxic bisphenol A by polycarbonate: in the case of baby bottles on the market in Austria, it was confirmed for 4 of 30 samples. Therefore, when buying such a water bottle, you can only rely on the integrity of the manufacturer and follow the instructions for use.
Tritan – considered the best food plastic, it does not contain bisphenol A, moreover, it contains no toxic phenolic compounds at all, as confirmed by scientific studies. This is the most expensive of the food-grade polymers and is used to make dishes, baby bottles, and water containers. BWT’s range includes adult and baby water bottles.
Environmental Impact of Plastic Water Bottles
Glass water bottles
Glass is one of the oldest and safest food materials: it does not emit any harmful substances, practically does not wear out, so glass water containers and trays for food products are very popular. If you opted for such a container, pay attention to what plastic parts are made of, which are always present in the form of caps, dispensers, etc. To evaluate the safety of plastic, go back to the previous part.
Facts About Plastic Water Bottles – Science, Environment, Biodegrade
Metal Water Bottles
Recently bottles and thermoses made of metals and their alloys have become widespread. The main advantages are due to the strength and durability, as well as the possibility of introducing a double-wall insulator that will keep drinks cold or hot as desired.
The main material for the production of food and water containers is stainless steel. There are also aluminum and copper water bottles.
Let’s talk about metal safety. High-quality food-grade stainless steel is an inert material that can serve you for decades, especially if the container does not contain plastic elements. Steel does not emit any toxic compounds and can not do any harm to health (unless, of course, you cook it in concentrated acids), due to the smooth surface it is resistant to scratching and reproduction of microorganisms in them.
As for copper and aluminum bottles, there is much debate as to whether they can release copper and aluminum, respectively, into the water.
The chemical properties of copper are such that the oxide film formed on its surface is resistant to all foods, the only limitation being acidic beverages at high temperatures. All limitations are usually indicated in the instructions. An advantage of copper is its bactericidal properties, which are not in fact inferior to those of silver: microorganisms do not develop well on copper surfaces.
As for aluminum, there is even more controversy surrounding it. Indeed, scientists have proven that cooking and storing acidic foods, such as tomato sauce in our familiar aluminum cookware, can cause a certain amount of metal ions to be released into the food, for which reason, our familiar aluminum cookware was recommended to be removed from everyday use. But as far as bottles go, the situation is simpler. First, they don’t usually hold acidic foods, and second, modern processing of aluminum ensures that it is as inert as possible. The real disadvantage of aluminum bottles is their softness, which is compensated for by their lightness.
I think we’ve looked at all the water bottles on the market. Here’s a little table to help you make your decision.