Refill, reuse and recycle to keep plastic bottles out of landfill

By Ashmeeta Subra 19 April 2024

Bottled water and soft drinks are a common choice for many Aussies, thanks to its convenience and easy accessibility. But when deciding whether to purchase these items, it’s important to consider their end-of-life and dispose responsibly.

Bottled beverages have become extremely popular products across modern society. A recent report indicates that a significant portion of Australians, about one-fifth, indulge in soft drinks on a weekly basis with about 1.5 million individuals consuming them daily.

The report estimates that approximately 15 billion beverages in plastic bottles, including bottled water and other drinks, are purchased annually, leading to a significant amount of plastic waste. When not disposed of properly, ideally through recycling programs like container deposit schemes or kerbside recycling services, plastic bottles can cause negative environmental impacts both on land or in waterways.

Once in the marine environment, these bottles become a major source of pollution, negatively impacting the health of marine wildlife by entanglement or ingesting pieces of plastic. Researchers from CSIRO estimated that approximately 43 per cent of short-tailed shearwater birds in eastern Australia have ingested plastic, with predictions suggesting that plastics ingestion in seabirds could affect 95 per cent of all species by 2050.  

The good news is that there are simple actions available to us to avoid wasting plastic in landfill and protect ecosystems from further pollution, environmental damage and wildlife threat. While the best thing you can do is avoid purchasing them in the first place, here are some other actions you can take to reduce plastic bottle waste.  

  • Keep a reusable bottle handy: Invest in a durable and reusable water bottle for your daily hydration needs wherever you go, reducing the need for single-use water bottles and saving you money in the long run. Choose reusable bottles made from materials like stainless steel, glass, or plastics that are free from BPA to minimise exposure to harmful chemicals.

  • Embrace refill culture: Why pay for a bottle of water when you can refill for free? Most establishments have free water refill stations, or you can use Tap finder to locate one nearest to you. To quench your thirst with something more flavourful, smart beverage dispensers like Refilled offer a range of beverage options to suit your preferences, including still and sparkling options infused with natural ingredients.  

  • Return empty bottles using the Container Deposit Scheme (CDS): Every state and territory in Australia has or will soon have a CDS where you can deposit eligible beverage containers in return for a small refund.  For every plastic, glass, and aluminium container you recycle, CDS provides a 10c refund and recycling them helps to reduce the need for virgin plastics in Australia. Our previous article talks about some hidden benefits of these schemes that you might find interesting. 

Find information about the CDS in your state here.  

  • Recycle your beverage containers through kerbside recycling services: Most types of plastic beverage bottles can be recycled via your household recycling bin. Make sure to check with your council for any specific local advice around recycling plastic bottles, as recommendations on what to do with lids or whether to scrunch the bottle or not can vary. 

 To learn more about recycling plastic bottles and containers, visit Recycling Near You.      

Ashmeeta Subra
With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.