- Made with 30% less plastic than the average half-liter bottle
- Features a new label that’s 30% smaller
- 100% recyclable
- Is flexible so it’s easier to crush for recycling
The Poland Spring Eco-Shape bottle is a very interesting case of green marketing. Unlike other campaigns which use vague terms to frame their product in an environmental context, Poland Spring instead lists several very specific facts. Their primary claim, that the bottle uses 30% less plastic than the average half-liter bottle was found in a March, 2007 nationally conducting audit of half-liter bottles, and the new Poland Spring Eco-Shape bottle was in fact found to use 30% less plastic than the mean of the 34 bottles tested. Even if these 34 bottles were the heaviest, most environmentally offensive bottles that the company could find, in all likelihood this new design does demonstrate a significant, if not 30%, decrease in the amount of plastic used. Also, the label is clearly smaller than the previous Poland Spring bottle design. The last two facts that Poland Springs lists are also true, but irrelevant. That the new bottle is 100% recyclable makes it no different from the old bottle, or any other plastic bottle for that matter, this is just a feel good fact that looked good on the list. Also, stating that the new bottle is “flexible”, and easier to crush for recycling, is just Poland Spring justifying that the new design is flimsy, which is expected from a design using less plastic. No real analytic data accompanies this claim, and as bottles are not crushed one by one for recycling, but in giant heaps, this new flexibility is fairly inconsequential.
Now that we have examined and verified the facts of the Poland Spring Eco-Shape bottle we can go ahead and proclaim that they are not lying, and this is a good, green product. Well, not quite. When studying just the facts about this new bottle, one can be mislead from the real truth of the matter which is that bottled water can never be considered green just as ice cream can never be considered health food. Although, in some respects, this new Eco-Shape bottle is quite similar to the new onslaught of hybrid SUVs. Just as with SUVs, environmentally, getting rid of bottled water all together would be the best solution; however, if they stick around, they might as well be better.
Below we have compiled a list of facts which will hopefully help to illustrate the environmental impact of bottled water. The Poland Spring Eco-Shape bottle may help to reduce the magnitude of some of these problems, but with only a reduction of the plastic used in each individual bottle and not a paradigm shift away from them, all of these issues will certainly persist.
- Annual production of the plastic bottles to meet U.S. consumer demand takes the equivalent of approximately 17.6 millions barrels of oil
- The transportation of bottled water uses a significant amount of energy, and as the Earth Policy Institute’s research director states “Tap water is delivered through an energy-efficient infrastructure. On the other hand, nearly a quarter of all
bottled water crosses national boundaries to reach consumers.”
- While all plastic bottles are recyclable, about 86% of empty bottles end up in the garbage
- Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill
While the Poland Spring Eco-Shape bottle may in fact use plastic more efficiently than its competitors, it is difficult to praise Poland Spring for attempting to sell an environmentally deplorable product on the merits of its eco-friendliness.
Sources: earth911.org, foodandwaterwatch.org, polandspring.com