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Environmental Impact

What is the current impact of plastic bottles on the environment?

What are some of the facts about plastic PET bottles?

How will ENSO Bottles help reduce the impact of plastic bottles?

Can plastics benefit the environment?

What is the carbon footprint of a traditional PET bottle?

How much carbon/methane content is off gassed from an ENSO bottle?

How much energy can the off gassed methane from an ENSO bottle generate?

How would the energy compare if I’m using CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps)?

What can consumers do to help reduce the environmental impact of plastic bottles?

What’s the benefit of placing ENSO Bottles in a landfill?

When your bottle biodegrades in a landfill what are the by-products?

Are the by-products of biodegradation harmful to our environment?

Do polymers still remain in the soil after biodegradation?

Isn’t methane gas considered a GHG (Green House Gas)?

What is the biggest producer of methane gasses?

Which product, oxo-degradables, PLA or the ENSO additive is the best environmental solution?

Does the ENSO additive contain any heavy metals?

Is it better environmentally to use glass, metal or PET plastic bottles?

What is the current impact of plastic bottles on the environment?

The use of PET plastic containers continues to expand with the majority of PET being used as beverage containers.  In 2006 more than 60 billion PET bottles were used for beverages. The multi-billion dollar a year beverage industry continues to grow.  

PET bottles are fully recyclable; however, with beverage bottles being mostly consumed away from home and the lack of recycle receptacles in public locations recycle rates are less than 25%.  This means that overall more than 75% of all plastic PET bottles are ending up in landfills or as litter. 

Standard PET bottles which end up in landfills or as litter are estimated to take 500 years to biodegrade.  This has lead to a very serious plastic pollution problem in landfills, water ways and on the roadside, and this problem continues to grow along with the plastic bottle industry.

What are some of the facts about plastic PET bottles?



In 1960 there wasn’t any plastic bottle production, over the past 12 years there has been a 700% increase in bottles sold but only a 5% increase in recycling.  Recently, efforts by private advocacy groups and state/local governments have initiated programs that are improving recycling and building consumer awareness of the growing problem with plastic bottle environmental issues.  Recycle rates are still very low with more than 75% of PET bottles ending up in landfills or as roadside litter.

Some interesting facts concerning PET plastic bottles:

  • An estimated 9,400 curbside collection programs and 10,000 drop-off programs collect PET plastic in the United States, currently.
  • Cubic yards conserved in a landfill by recycling PET beverage bottles:
    4,800 recycled 16-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    4,050 recycled 20-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    3,240 recycled 1-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    2,430 recycled 2-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    1,350 recycled 3-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
  • Since 1978, manufacturers have reduced the weight of a two-liter bottle by about 29%, from 68 grams to 48 grams.
  • Recycling a ton of PET containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • According to the EPA, recycling a pound of PET saves approximately 12,000 BTU's.
  • The average household generated 42 pounds of PET plastic bottles in the year 2005.
  • Custom bottles (which are bottles used for products other than carbonated soft drinks) represent 62% of all PET bottles available for recycling.
  • Fourteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiber for an extra large T-shirt.
  • It takes 14 20 oz. PET bottles to make one square foot of carpet.
  • It takes 63 20 oz. PET bottles to make a sweater.
  • Fourteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.
  • It takes 85 20 oz. PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.
  • Approximate number of PET beverage bottles per pound:

    • 16 oz. -- 24 bottles per pound
    • 20 oz. -- 18 bottles per pound
    • 1 liter -- 16 bottles per pound
    • 2 liter -- 12 bottles per pound
How will ENSO Bottles help reduce the impact of plastic bottles?

ENSO Bottles will be the first to market with a viable biodegradable PET product. Our desire is that biodegradable bottles replace standard PET containers which are filling our landfills, and polluting lands and oceans.  Additionally, ENSO recognizes that biodegradable plastics aren’t the complete answer to solving our pollution problems.  ENSO believes that biodegradable plastic bottles when combined with a viable recycling program, is a step in the right direction toward reducing a growing environmental problem.

ENSO was founded on the idea that we recognize a need to do something to improve our environment.  By having a more earth friendly PET biodegradable container and becoming a partner in helping to develop effective recycling programs, we can stem the rising tide of plastic pollution and leave our world a better place for future generations.

Can plastics benefit the environment?

Absolutely, plastics have already significantly changed our lives and lifestyles; however we must take responsibility as consumers and use plastic more wisely.  One recent study from The Royal Society “found that packaging beverages in PET versus glass or metal reduces energy use by 52 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent.  Plastics, if used wisely, “have the potential to reduce mankind’s footprint on the Earth,” Thompson said.”

Read more - http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1526/1973.full.pdf+html

What is the carbon footprint of a traditional PET bottle?

The carbon footprint of PET plastic is about 13 lbs of CO2 per lb of plastic. If you know the weight of your PET plastic bottle, you can multiply it with the number of plastic bottles you are using per year. Then you can easily calculate the carbon dioxide emitted by your own usage of plastic bottles.  A lb of plastic will make approximately 24 bottles of 19.2 gram bottles which is one case of 16.9/500ml bottles of water.  So every time you drink a case of bottled water there is an equivalent of 13 lbs of CO2 released into the atmosphere.   

See below background information.

  • The production of 1 kg of PET, requires the equivalent of 2 kg of oil for energy and raw material.
  • Burning 1 kg of oil creates about 3 kg of carbon dioxide. In other words: Per kg of plastic, about 6 kg carbon dioxide is created during production and incineration.
How much carbon/methane content is off gassed from an ENSO bottle?

The calculation for figuring the carbon content is:

PET Resin  =  120C / (120C + 8H + 64O)  =  120/192  =  62.5 %
ENSO additive  =  (192C) / (192C + 18H + 96O)  =  62.7 %
ENSO bottles  =  99% (62.5) + 1% (62.7)  =  62.5 %

As a comparison, Polypropylene is 84.5% carbon.

These percentages are the potential carbon atoms that will be converted to CO2 or more likely CH4 (methane).

How much energy can the off gassed methane from an ENSO bottle generate?

To calculate how much energy can be created from ENSO bottles take the weight of the ENSO bottle multiply it by % carbon, multiply by 1.33 (molecular weight of CH4 16 / molecular weight of carbon 12 – this converts the carbon to methane), then multiply by 22.4 (L/g – ideal gas law).

(bottle wt * bottle carbon %) * (methane mass 16 / carbon mass 12) * 22.4 L/g = vol. methane per bottle

(19.2 gram * 62.5%) * (1.33) * 22.4 = vol. of methane per bottle

(12) * (1.33) * 22.4 = 357.50 L * (1 m3/100 L) = .3575 m3

Once we know the volume of methane per bottle we need to convert that into how much energy can be created per volume of methane. The Thermal energy content of methane is approximately 26.73 – 32.7 kj/m3 therefore about (26.73 + 32.7) / 2 = 29.715 kJ/m3

.3575 m3 * 29.715 kJ/m3 = 10.623 kJ

1kJ/second = 1kW and considering a 100W light bulb:

10.623 kJ = 10.623 kW seconds * (1000 W/1 kW) * (1 hr/3600 s) = 2.95 W hr

To light a 100W light bulb for 1 hour would require 33.88 ENSO bottles:

100 W * (1/2.95 W hr) = 33.88

Let’s take a look at the real number of plastic bottles ending up in landfills. In 2006, approximately 31 billion single serve water bottles were not recycled and ended up in landfills. These bottles if they were biodegradable could result in approximately 1 million hours of light for a 100W light bulb.

31,000,000,000 bottles * (1 hr/33.88 bottles) = 914,759 hrs

How would the energy compare if I’m using CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps)?

By adding additional energy efficiency solutions the value of using methane from landfills really shines.  Using compact fluorescent lamps vs incandescent the energy efficiency would quadruple.  Compared to incandescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), when used properly have the following advantages:

  • Last up to 10 times longer
  • Use about one-fourth the energy
  • Produce 90% less heat, while producing more light per watt

The table below compares the wattage of commonly available incandescent lamps and the wattage of a CFL that will provide similar light levels.  So by using a 25W CFL bulbs and using the same 100W of energy from the methane off gassed from ENSO bottles we essentially quadruple the total light output.   

Incandescent
Wattage

CFL
Wattage

60

15

75

20

100

25

 

What can consumers do to help reduce the environmental impact of plastic bottles?

Become more aware of recycling programs within your area.  The most important thing that each of us can do is recycle.  Encourage friends and family members to participate in recycling.  As consumers, we need to actively participate in recycling our plastic at home or, if we’re away, place them in a proper recycling container.

As a second step always purchase products using the ENSO bottles “Bottles for a Healthier Earth”.  This will ensure that no matter the final resting place for the bottle it will recycle or biodegrade and if in a landfill will produce methane which is usable as a source for clean energy.

What’s the benefit of placing ENSO Bottles in a landfill?

Over 75% or plastic bottles and over 94% of all plastics end up in landfills.  Landfill environments are anaerobic in nature and lead to CH4 (methane) offgasing.  CH4, also called Methane can be reclaimed as a source for clean inexpensive energy.  The Clean Air Act requires all landfills to reclaim methane and other Green House Gasses (GHG) and either burn the gas or use it to crate energy. 

Read more - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Air_Act

Using methane from landfills is the most inexpensive form of “green” energy available at this time.  It is even cheaper than solar, hydro, wind and alternative fuels. 

Read more – http://www.methanetomarkets.org

When your bottle biodegrades in a landfill what are the by-products?

ENSO bottles biodegrade from the natural process of microbial digestion.  This process can take place in either aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen).  Depending on the environment in which the microbes are breaking down the plastic polymer will determine the by-products from those microbes.

For aerobic microbial environments the by-products will be off gassing of CO2 and humus.  Humus is the degraded organic material in soil, which causes some soil layers to be dark brown or black.  In soil science, humus refers to any organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further.

For anaerobic microbial environments the by-products will be off gassing of CO2 and CH4 as well as humus.  Humus is the degraded organic material in soil, which causes some soil layers to be dark brown or black.  In soil science, humus refers to any organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will break down no further.

Are the by-products of biodegradation harmful to ourenvironment?

No, biodegradation from the natural process from microbes does not leave harmful by-products.  In the case of microbial digestion of polymers the entire polymer chain is broken down leaving behind no harmful by-products.  As in the case of PET the terethphalic acid with the benzene ring is broken down by microbes. 

Do polymers still remain in the soil after biodegradation?

No, the microbes are after the carbon backbone of the polymer chain.  Microbes use the carbon atom for energy and multiplying.  Once the carbon backbone is removed there is no way for a polymer to remain.

Isn’t methane gas considered a GHG (Green House Gas)?

Yes, Methane, which is also known chemically as CH4 is a very strong Green House Gas (GHG) and is reported to be upwards of 20 times stronger than CO2.  Methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifespan than CO2. However, once effectively burned for energy production, the methane is converted into CO2.

Read more - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

What is the biggest producer of methane gasses?

It is a common misconception that livestock farming is the greatest producers of methane gases.  In truth, landfills (at 28%) are the largest contributors to methane gas releasing into the atmosphere.  This is significantly reduced when landfills implement methane-to-energy programs.

Read more - http://www.methanetomarkets.org/

Which product, oxo-degradables, PLA or ENSO additive is the best environmental solution?

The ENSO additive is the only technology on the market that will accomplish full biodegradation through microbial digestion in both aerobic and anaerobic environments, maintains the same shelf life as traditional plastics and is good for the environment.

Oxo-degradable products fragment into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic which are often mistaken as food by small animals, uses heavy metals and leaves behind salts.

PLA utilizes a food source to create the plastic which is resulting in higher food prices, requires the use of Genetically Modified Organism seed and requires heavy pesticides in the farming process, does not biodegrade unless placed into an industrial composting facility, and overall requires the use of more fossil fuels than traditional plastics.  

Does the ENSO additive contain any heavy metals?

No, the ENSO additive does not contain any compounds that would be considered heavy metals, light metals or metal ions.  The ENSO additive is a combination of true organic compound coming from oil and other nutrients found in the environment.

Is it better environmentally to use glass, metal or PET plastic bottles?

This is a very interesting environmental question which has been hotly debated.  There are a number of environmental factors to consider when making this debate.  Each of the three packaging technologies require resources which are taken from the Earth, shipped to various parts of the world and must be processed through mechanical methods.

Glass (Bottles)
Simplified: glass is made up primarily of Sand (Silicone Oxide SiO2), Soda Ash, Limestone, Feldspar and minor ingredients: (Fining agents, decolorizers & colorizers).  Silica is the most abundant mineral in Earth’s crust and the second most abundant element.  Glass is remarkable for its strength and being chemically inert. These ingredients are mixed together (Also known as fusion casting) in a large furnace that runs at about 2800F
.

Aluminum (Cans)

The chief source of aluminum is bauxite ore is mined and refined into aluminum. Bauxite is combined with caustic soda, lime, and steam to produce a sodium aluminate liquor. The resulting alumina is ready for smelting into aluminum. Aluminum’s melting point is approximately 1221F.

Aluminum is too reactive chemically to occur in nature as a free metal. Instead it is found combined in over 270 different minerals. Aluminum is also an abundant metal and the third most abundant after Silicone Oxide and makes up about 8% of the Earth’s solid surface. Refined aluminum is remarkable for its ability to resist corrosion.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
PET is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. The raw materials are petrochemicals: crude oil, natural gas and ethylene glycol. PET has a melting point of approximately 480F. The raw pellets are packed in large pallet sized boxes.  PET is hydroscopic, meaning that it naturally absorbs water and it must have this moisture removed as much as possible before molding or extruding. Once molded, PET has a high resistance to moisture and is very strong.

Conclusion

So what wins on raw sourcing? Since glass and aluminum are minerals and must be mined using equipment and refined in furnaces using extremely high temperatures, PET wins on the overall environmental impact.  PET is also extremely light compared to the other to materials so the environmental impact for shipping the plastic and then the final product is greatly