At Mereva Tulum, in addition to being attentive to the needs of our guests, we are concerned about our planet and the environment, therefore, we avoid the use of plastic as much as possible. Not only have we replaced pet bottles with glass bottles, but they are also returnable. We are proud to be one of the boutique hotels in Tulum actively engaged in preserving clean nature and ecosystems.
Returnable bottles were introduced to the market by Coca-Cola in the 1940s. Although many consumers remember the iconic glass returnable bottles, both glass and PET plastic returnable bottles are now widely used, for example, in India, Germany, Chile, the Philippines and Mexico. According to market data covering the global soft drinks industry, returnable packaging systems are in place in 94 countries. These states account for 80% of global NARTD beverage sales. Consumers buy beverages in returnable bottles and, after drinking them, return the bottles to the store where they were purchased. They can buy beverages in returnable bottles in beverage-only stores or in regular supermarkets with or without a dedicated returnable beverage department or in smaller grocery stores, and can return the bottles there. Returnable container systems are also common in hotels and restaurants. Returnable packaging systems operate in combination with deposit return programs, where consumers pay a deposit per bottle for the first bottle or bottles they purchase, and the deposit is refunded to them when they return the empty bottles.
Once the bottles are returned, the stores store them until they are picked up by local bottlers or external transport companies that work with them. They are then returned to the plant, where they are sorted, washed and reentered into the manufacturing process. Recently, these recovery systems have become more efficient, as companies are employing re-treatment systems to recycle the water used to clean the bottles and using solar energy to heat it. 1Returnable packaging systems have empty bottle return rates of nearly 100%. The loss rate of these bottles (i.e., bottles that are discarded, broken or not returned) is less than 5% globally. Returnable bottles are closely monitored in these systems, as they have an economic value to the companies that own them, according to industry sources.
Returnable bottles According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study of returnable bottle delivery systems, the circulation rates of reusable glass bottles are higher (refilled up to 50 times) than those of reusable PET bottles. The circulation rate depends on breakage resistance, container stability and material wear rate. When returnable glass bottles are removed from the system, they are melted down and used to produce new glass bottles. By contrast, PET returnable bottles, which are now widely used in markets around the world, can be washed and refilled up to 20 times. Returnable PET bottles are heavier than single-use disposable PET bottles. A one-liter returnable PET bottle we weighed weighed 74 grams, 2.2 times more than a one-liter single-use disposable bottle of the same brand. Returnable PET bottles that are no longer considered usable are recycled and, for the most part, are not converted into new returnable PET bottles.
If we increase our use of returnable packaging, how much less waste would end up in the ocean?
Replacing single-use PET bottles with returnable bottles, whether glass or PET, has enormous potential to rapidly reduce marine pollution globally.
With a 10% increase in the market share of returnable bottles in all the countries we have analyzed replacing single-use PET bottles, the number of plastic bottles that end up in the oceans globally would be reduced by 22% or between 4.6 and 7.6 billion PET bottles per year. In Chile, the market share of reusable glass bottles would grow from 11% to 16%, while PET plastic bottles would increase from 25% to 30%. In the Philippines, the market share of reusable glass bottles would grow from 33% to 39%, while PET plastic bottles would increase from 14% to 19%. That is, the final impact would be a 29% reduction in marine pollution in Chile and a 24% decrease in the Philippines. In the United States, the second largest global soft drink market, the equivalent of an estimated 300 million one-liter PET bottles per year. A 10% increase in the share of returnable containers in the US market from the current 0.04% share for glass and the non-existent share for PET would reduce marine PET pollution by 34%, or between 74 and 108 million bottles per year.
Climate and environmental benefits of returnable bottles
Because glass bottles are heavier than plastic bottles and require more energy to produce, transport and recycle, a common misconception is that returnable containers present challenges for the climate and the environment. In fact, life-cycle analyses in countries as diverse as Germany and Chile have found that both glass and PET returnable containers generate less environmental impact than single-use PET bottles. The German Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) conducted a life cycle assessment for the Mineral Water Producers Association, examining different delivery systems for bottled mineral water. The analysis concluded that returnable containers had a lower carbon footprint than single-use plastic bottles, with 68.7kg CO2e/1000 liters for PET returnable bottles, 85kg CO2e/1000 liters for glass returnable bottles, and 139kg CO2e/1000 liters for single-use PET bottles. 3In addition, a recent life cycle assessment conducted by the Chilean Dictut Institute for Oceana compared the carbon footprint, water consumption and waste generation of returnable glass bottles, single-use recyclable PET bottles and aluminum cans. The assessment found that returnable glass bottles, despite being the heaviest, had the least environmental impact in terms of water consumption and waste generation and produced 37% less greenhouse gas emissions than single-use PET bottles.
At Mereva Tulum, we include complimentary bottled water daily in your minibar, if you wish to take it with you to the beach or cenote, please bring back the bottles, you will be helping to preserve the environment and keep our seas clean.
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