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    Running Head: Ecological Footprint EssaySingle-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainlesssteel bottles

    ENVL 4300-DR. TAIT CHIRENJE

    Single-use, plastic bottles vs.reusable, stainless steel bottles

    Ecological Footprint Essay

    April Lynn HamblinSpring 2013

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 1

    Table of Contents

    1. Abstract.....page 12. Introduction...page 13. Background...page 2

    i. Glass to plasticpage 2ii. Plastic to stainless steel...page 2

    4. Bottle Battles: Debate regarding which bottle is better.....pages 3-4i. Common analysis of plastics vs. stainless steel....pages 3-4

    5. Manufacturing and Materialspages 4-7i. Oil to make plastics......pages 4-5ii. Water....pages 5-6iii. Metals to make stainless steel...pages 6-7

    6. Environmental and Economic Repercussionspages 7-13i. CO2 emissions......pages 7-8ii. Production wastes....pages 8-9iii. Land-use change ..........pages 9-10iv. Water.pages 10-11v. Waste....pages 11-13vi. Use..page 13

    7. Shippingpages 13-15i. Case study with plastic water bottles.....pages 13-14ii. Case study with stainless steel bottles..page 14iii. Comparison......page 14-15

    8. Conclusion: Consumers Choice.....page 159. Figures..pages 16-1810.References.pages 19-2511.Appendices...pages 26-29

    i. Emissions calculations..page 26ii. Shipment calculations....pages 27-29

    12.Acknowledgements.page 2

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 1

    Abstract

    Single-use, plastic water bottles are compared to reusable stainless steel bottles. While an

    environmental science major may cling to the stainless steel bottle, thinking it is 100% better

    than the plastic bottles, this is not completely true. While plastic bottles do require enormous

    amounts of oil, energy, and water to produce, stainless steel bottles also require similarly high

    amounts of mining practices for the raw materials as well as energy and water. The true reason

    that stainless steel bottles are better for the environment is because they do not produce as

    much waste as the single-use plastic bottles do, for stainless steel bottles are reusable. Although

    stainless steel bottles are a better option, they are by no means as eco-friend as I initially though.

    Introduction

    Last year, the environmental, community service, student-run organization called Water

    Watch at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey bought about a thousand reusable, stainless

    steel water bottles to give to students, staff, faculty, and guests at their events. As president of

    Water Watch at that time, I though the reusable water bottles were a great way to promote the

    hydration stations on campus for free, filtered water instead of paying for plastic water bottles.

    After we received the bottles, which had excess packaging, I really started to think if they are

    actually better for the environment than plastic water bottles and, if so, by how much. This essay

    will look further into this question and lift the biased veil that may shelter our eyes, showing how

    much stainless steel reusable water bottles are better than plastic water bottles, if better at all.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 2

    Background

    While some may think that bottled water is a new invention, the idea of collecting water

    in a container and selling it has been around for centuries, and the idea of consuming water for

    its healing properties has been around for thousands of years, as early as the Egyptians who

    diverted the Nile to create portable water for agriculture (White Water Admin, 2012). According

    to Professor Hall (2009), records of the earliest sold bottled water are from 1767 in Jacksons

    Spa, Boston. Bottled water was popular because of the health benefits of drinking water.

    Malvern in England is believed to be the first true company that produced actual bottled water

    (White Water Admin, 2012). Once glass technologies came about in the nineteenth century, the

    cost of bottled water became affordable and manufacturing became practical. In the twentieth

    century, bottled water lost popularity for a while because municipalities were providing cheap,

    safe drinking water, but, in 1977, bottled water started to become more popular. This was driven

    again by the concern of safe, healthy drinking water and promoted initially by a company called

    Perrier through importing water (Hall, 2009).

    In 2004, companies such as Klean Kanteen started working on what they called a better

    option than plastic and lined aluminum bottles: a safe, healthy, lightweight, reusable bottle free

    of Bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxin substances or the stainless steel bottle (Klean Kanteen,

    2013). In 2010, research conducted by the Socit de Calcul Mathmatique showed that stainless

    steel production was increasing more than any other product in the world. According to the

    International Stainless Steel Forum (2012), stainless steel is becoming more popular, for sales

    have increased by 2.9% in the last year. It seems that Klean Kanteen were before their time.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 3

    Bottle Battles: Debate regarding which bottle is better

    While stainless steel becomes more popular, many today still use plastic water bottles.

    Royte (2008) points out that plastic water bottles are very popular, despite the facts that

    Americans live in a country where more than 89 percent of tap water meets or exceeds federal

    health and safety regulations, regularly wins in blind taste tests against name-brand waters, and

    costs 240 to 10,000 times less than bottled water, is an unparalleled social phenomenon, one of

    the greatest marketing coups of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One of the main

    differences between plastic water bottles and stainless steel water bottles is that the water already

    comes in the plastic bottles and then you toss them; there is no need to find water and then clean

    or care for the bottle. Royte (2008) continues to explain that this use of plastic water bottles

    portrays the countries growing laziness and impatience. It also shows our insecurities with

    germsour increasing need for individual cleanlinessas shown by many of our actions such as

    having wipes for shopping carts and plastic bags for vegetables at grocery stores. Kennedy also

    points out that plastic bottles are lightweight so they are easier to carry around than a heavier

    stainless steel bottle, are transparent so people subconsciously link this to pure water, and are

    relatively durable with a long shelf life until used. Most plastic water bottles are also made out of

    a non-carcinogenic plastic (Oregon Environmental Council). Because of these factors, plastic

    bottles are popular and used often, even though they contribute significantly to pollution, cost

    more than tap water, and have similar or less requirements for health than tap water.

    Much of the plastic water bottles success is due to the fact that people do not believe that

    tap water is safe to drink. Tap water is also regulated more often than bottled water, if bottled

    water is even regulated; plastic water bottle companies also do not have to tell the customer

    where the water comes from, so much false advertisement makes media portray plastic water

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 4

    bottles as coming from a cleaner source than the tap, but this may not be correct (Goodman,

    2009). Tap water quality is fine for most of the United States (The New York Times, 2013), so

    people can generally trust the water or chose to buy filters.

    Instead of simply grabbing and going with plastic water bottles, some people may

    research the topic and chose stainless steel bottles instead. According to Bosque (2010), stainless

    steel bottles are highly durable, do not contain plastic toxins, there are no known safety hazards,

    more colors and sizes available, generally dishwasher safe, are relatively lightweight, and are hip

    to use in modern culture. Their downfall is that they are not as convenient as plastic water

    bottles, may get dented when dropped, could give the water a metallic taste, and may heat up in

    the summer. Osterman (Nickel Institute) also agrees that customers are generally happy with

    stainless steel, perhaps because of it highly resists corrosion, durability for decades, and low

    maintenance requirements as well as being recyclable (Osterman,Nickel Institue). Freeman, the

    policy director at Environmental Defense, also recommends using stainless steel bottles (Austen,

    2008). These positive comments may be what stainless steel bottle users have read before they

    make the change. While plastic water bottles have a large footprint, it is sometimes easy to forget

    that stainless steel bottles have one as well, especially if you use a stainless steel bottle. It is

    important to look at each to decide which has a smaller footprint, and by how much.

    Manufacturing and Materials

    When considering plastic, one must first understand where it comes fromoil. Oil is

    made from thousands of year old fossils in the ground, mainly marine life such as algae and

    plankton (Schirber, 2009). To get a barrel, oil is first pumped from the ground in the form of

    crude oil. Figure 1 shows the general breakup a barrel of oil into its components (Gibson, 2009).

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 5

    The oil is then pumped into a boiler and a distillation column where it becomes petroleum for

    making plastics (Freudenrich, a). Figure two shows this process visually.

    After the process of obtaining the oil, it is then converted into plastic. The plastic that

    makes up most plastic water bottles are called Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which was

    invented in 1941 (Freudenrich, b). PET is considered a safe, non-carcinogenic plastic (Oregon

    Environmental Council) that is not known to leech estrogen at all or antimony at high levels, for

    antimony levels are regulated (Facts on PET). Antimony is a non-carcinogenic compound that, in

    short-terms, may cause skin and eye irritation, yet in long term, may cause more serious

    respiratory effects like chronic bronchitis or emphysema (U. S. Environmental Protection

    Agency, 2007). These plastics are large carbon-containing molecules called polymers,

    composed of monomers. Monomers are similar to polymers, but shorter, arranged in a way that

    makes plastics chemically inert so that they do not react with other chemicals (Freudenrich, b).

    This chemical process produces polymer resins, which are pure polymer before additives and

    reinforcements are added (Society of Plastics Engineers, 2008). These polymers resins are

    converted into tiny droplets called nurdles. The nurdles are shipped from their processing facility

    to the company that will create the plastic water bottles (Back2Tap, 2008).

    Making plastic water bottles does not only require the use of PET to from the bottle, it

    also requires other materials such as cardboard and more plastic for packaging. Corrugated

    cardboard is made from paper and used to ship products; in the USA, 90% of the products

    shipped use corrugated cardboard (Earth911, b, 2013). This high quality material is used because

    it is well designed, has efficient costs, and creates rapid turnaround (Answers, 2013).

    Once plastic water bottles are produced, before packaged, they also must be filled with

    water. This makes the bottles convenient for those on the go. Different water bottle companies

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 6

    fill their bottles from different areas of water such as a spring or well, but the majorityabout

    1/3comes from the regular tap (The Story of Stuff Project and Free Rand Studio, 2010).

    The water that fills these bottles will also be available to the tap and hydration stations,

    which people will use to fill their stainless steel reusable water bottles. The water is gathered

    from a treatment plant that collects water from aquifers that accumulates from rain water or

    streams (Back2Tap, 2008). As of 2004, the U. S. Environment Protection Agency stated that

    most of peoples drinking water, about thirty percent, comes from the ground.

    After the water is pumped from the ground, it is then treated with certain regulations.

    Figure three shows a basic process of a water treatment plant. As well as treatment, facilities also

    monitor for over eighty contaminants (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004). After this

    water treatment, the water is then transferred to different areas, where it can be pumped for

    drinking using different containers for the water such as from plastic bottles or stainless steel.

    The first introduction of stainless steel occurred in 1911 (British Stainless Steel

    Association, 2012).Stainless steel is a metal alloy made from steel, chromium, nickel,

    manganese, and nitrogen which is heated and heat treatments such as annealing and descaling

    (Key to Metals, 2008). Figure four portrays a typical stainless steel production facility. The metal

    may also be refined to improve its cleanness (Key to Metals, 2008). Figure five shows one

    process or cleaning, a vacuum oxygen decarburization unit. These materials are also packaged

    using corrugated cardboard and require a lid, usually made of plastic.

    Before making stainless steel, the raw materials, elements from the earth, must be mined.

    From the Guidebook for Evaluating Mining Project EIAs, to mine, a proposed area is picked out

    and cleared of vegetation for mines. These mines must also be readily available to the workers,

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 7

    so access roads are built. After this, then mining may occur for a number of years until the area is

    closed and rehabilitated to its pre-mining habitat.

    On a side note, both the plastic bottles made from PET and the stainless steel bottles

    (because they do not have a plastic liner) do not contain bisphenol A (BPA)an industrial

    chemical used in many plastics that is known to cause humans serious health problems such as

    heart disease, diabetes, and developmental brain issues (Facts on PET; National Institute of

    Environmental Health Science, 2012; Oregon Environmental Council; West, 2013). This is a

    benefit of each bottle, for BPA may cause serious issues and should be avoided.

    Environmental and Economic Repercussions

    Both single-use, plastic water bottles and reusable, stainless steel bottles have negative

    impacts on the environment around them, contributing significant amounts of CO2 emissions. In

    2006, approximately 331 million barrels of oil were used to make plastics (U.S. Energy

    Information Administration, 2012). Records for oil used to make plastic bottles have increased

    to about 17 million barrels of crude oil used in America per year (Didier; Scholtus, 2009;

    Back2Tap, 2008; Pacific Institute, 2006). Using facts such as these and standards from Bliss

    (2008) there is about 5.9 million tons of CO2 emissions per year from crude oil.

    According to Pacific Institute, in 2006, manufacturing every ton of PET for the plastic

    water bottles creates 3 tons of CO2 emissions. As reported by U. S. Government Accountability

    Office (2009), in 2006, the USA produced 827,000 to 1.3 million tons of plastic water bottles.

    From crude oil and production emissions, there are about 9.8 million tons of CO2 emissions per

    year. Use of plastic water bottles has been increasing (Didier), so this may be a higher value.

    Stainless steel also contributes atmospheric CO2. One of the highest percentages of raw

    materials in stainless steel is 27% nickel (Socit de Calcul Mathmatique, 2010). If the CO2

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 8

    emissions were used for nickel mining in 2007 worldwide, this caused about 25.5 million tons of

    CO2, where about 60% is from the mine sites and 30% from shipping and processing (Farrell,

    2009). The production of these raw materials, such as nickel, to be made into stainless steel is 2.8

    tons of CO2 emissions per ton of stainless steel (Socit de Calcul Mathmatique, 2010).

    The entire process of creating stainless steel also requires immense amounts of electricity

    because of the required melting temperatures of metals to be combined into stainless steel, about

    0.72 tons of CO2 per ton of stainless steel. From 2001-2008, 190 million tons of stainless steel

    was produced, of about 23.75 million tons per year, where 20% of those were material goods

    such as reusable bottles (Socit de Calcul Mathmatique, 2010).

    According to the International Stainless Steel Forum (2012), 3.81 tons of CO2 emissions

    are produced per tons of stainless steel. In 2012, China produced about 14 million tons of

    stainless steel (International Stainless Steel Forum). About 20% of these went to material goods,

    but the amount used for stainless steel bottles would be much less. For example, if about 1/3 of

    the material goods were used for stainless steel bottles, this would create about 3.6 million tons

    of CO2 emissions. While much CO2 emissions are produced from plastic bottles and stainless

    steel bottles, it truly depends on quantity being produced. Since plastic bottles are single-use,

    there must be more produced, which increases the total amount of CO2 emissions, causing a

    greater footprint in this aspect, but if more people switch to using stainless steel bottles, this

    would surely increase.

    Both initial steps to the production of plastic and stainless steel bottles negatively impact

    the environment with different types of wastes. Pumping this oil produces a number of wastes

    which are generally created from brine (water and salt) mixing with materials and radionuclides

    to form precipitates such as scale, sludge, and produced water which all contain radiation (U. S.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 9

    Environmental Protection Agency, b.). Mining also produces many mine wastes such as

    minerals, sediments, dust, gases, and chemicals (Edwards, Jamieson, & Lottermoser, 2011).

    These byproducts, known as Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive

    Material (TENORM), may accumulate in ducts, pipes, valves, storage tanks, or may escape into

    the environment as dusts and gamma radiation (Araujo et al.). Depending on exposure and

    materials ingested, TENORMs are believed to be harmful to humans and the environment (U.S.

    Environmental Protection Agency, 2000). Described by Princeton University (2012) these effects

    of the ionizing radiation could cause short-term effects such as sickness and burns, or long-term

    effects such as cataracts and cancer. Although oil and mining practices have TENORMs occur

    often, these can also result from water treatment facilities (U.S. Environmental Protection

    Agency, 2000). These health risks also affect the economy, causing more people to require

    specific health services, which could cause insurances to fluctuate in cost.

    Oil and mining processes also completely alter habitats, contributing to land-use change,

    which causes loss of diversity. Both processes significantly alter the land by harvesting materials

    that are found beneath the earth. Besides getting to these materials, other surrounding land must

    be altered too, such as building access roads for workers. Both processes also could also result in

    catastrophes that degrade surrounding ecosystems even more. Many humans and much wildlife

    could lose their lives from events that result from pumping oil or mining such as oils spills and

    earthquakes. Oil spills contaminate the surrounding land and sources of water, especially

    polluting the ocean. These spills cause vast losses in the economy such as oil company losing

    millions as well as fishing industries. Mining and extracting fossil fuels can also cause

    earthquakes (Chirenje, a, 2013). Earthquakes can result in immense economic struggle, causing

    damage that may take many years to repair.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 10

    While these wastes and disasters are terrible for the environment, there is still more.

    Paper product usage is one of the leading contributers to deforestation such as high quantities of

    corrugate cardboard used if it is not made from recycled papers. Most corrugate cardboard comes

    from fast growing pine trees that are grown in farmsagriculture and farms being the second

    leading cause of deforestation (Tolluch, 2009)which are coated with pesticides and fertilizers

    along with consuming much energy, water, and land space (Made How, 2013). Pumping oil also

    contributes, but, as Tolluch (2009) explains, mining not only encompasses the seventh leading

    cause, but it also requires building roads, the eighth leading cause of deforestation. Deforestation

    alters the land to become a source of carbon instead of a sink, thus contributing to global climate

    change by release of the green house gases such as CO2 and causes natural biodiversity loss.

    Global climate change causes a loss in diversity and will ultimately change global ecosystems.

    This will have effects on the economy, being very costly for society to cope with the changes

    such as sea level rise, alterations in the hydrologic cycles, and intensified weather.

    Deforestation along with building roads also impacts water. The impervious surfaces and

    lack of trees cause runoff pollution. Water is an essential, scarce resource, where currently about

    780 million people have no access to clean waterone in nine people (Water.org, 2013).

    Because of its importance, findings in the Global Water Security report and major international

    studies (Milner, 2012) predict water problems will rise within the next decade, partially due to

    global requirements projected to rise 40% above present rates. These implications show that

    water significantly affects the economy and may be the reason different areas go to war in the

    future. This production of plastic and stainless steel bottles highly impacts water.

    Pacific Institute (2006) evaluates that about three times the amount of the water actually

    put into the plastic bottles is consumed in the process. Much water is also consumed while

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 11

    pumping the oil; some cases have shown to use as much water that could power 79,000

    households (Finely, 2012) or anywhere from 6 to 12 million gallons a year, depending on

    drought conditions of the environment (Gilmer & Vaidyanathan, 2012). The process of

    producing stainless steel also requires water after the heat treatment process to cool the metal

    (Made How, 2013) and washing the bottle every day requires water which will accumulate

    throughout the year. Mining also uses water, for hard rock mines generally require water for

    drilling. While different facilities and methods consume different amounts of water, Mavis

    (2003) estimates that about 2,000 gallons per ton of finished product. For a year producing

    stainless steel, about 2.8 billion gallons of water are consumed for materials goods, less for just

    stainless steel bottles. It seems odd that both bottles, which are portrayed to give so much water

    to the consumer, actually take away much more water in their production. If used at the same

    rate, a single plastic bottle requires much less and would be more eco-friendly than a single

    stainless steel bottle in this aspect, yet they are not.

    Because plastic water bottles are single-use, they create much more waste than reusable

    bottles, yet are more expensive than reusable bottles.This also affects the economy because

    plastic water bottles are expensive. Tap water, which is generally used to fill the stainless steel

    bottles and many plastic water bottles, costs about $0.49 per year, which is 0.035% the cost of

    the plastic water bottles (The New York Times, 2013). If one takes all of the plastic water bottles

    that the average American will drink, 167/year for about $1,400/year, it will be 50 billion water

    bottles, which are able to circle around the earth over 5 times (The Story of Stuff Project and

    Free Rand Studio, 2010). To prevent all of these plastic bottles literally circling the earth, they

    must be recycled properly, or else they will cause much devastation to the environment.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 12

    As explained by Earth911 (a, 2013), recycling conserves energy, reduces green house

    gases, creates beneficial reuse of materials, and saves landfill space. The process of recycling

    itself requires less energy than producing new materials. In 2007, 4 billion lbs of plastic recycled

    amounted to enough energy to heat 2.1 million homes (Earth911, a, 2013). Recycling one ton of

    plastic bottles saves 3.8 barrels of oil (Benefits of Recycling, 2013). Also, recycling one ton of

    plastic saves between 6.5-7.5 cubic yards of space in a landfill (Benefits of Recycling, 2013;

    Earth911, a, 2013).

    While plastic bottles are the most recycled plastic in the USA (Benefits of Recycling,

    2013), only about 20 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled (Baskind, 2010; Back2Tap,

    2008; Didier). This means that at least 80 percent of plastic water bottles either end up in a

    landfill, littered, or in the ocean. Didier explains that 2 million tons of plastic water bottles end

    up in United States landfills alone. These bottles and others that are not recycled take 500-700

    years to start decomposing (Bak2Tap, 2008) because, as mentioned earlier, plastics are

    chemically inert so they do not readily break down (Freudenrich, b).

    Because they take so long to decompose, they are a current and future issue of pollution

    where billions, probably even more, bottles sit in landfills and float in the ocean. In 2008, enough

    plastic was floating in the ocean to form a mass twice the size of Texas (Back2Tap). Akkhavong,

    K. et al. (2009) studies indicate that plastic bottles contain organic comlbs and absorb organic

    contaminants while they are in the ocean or in a landfill. These plastic bottles or pieces then

    transfer their contaminants to living organisms. These contaminants also leech into the ocean as

    well as the ground water through landfills, which harms the environment and wildlife

    significantly (Akkhavong, K. et al., 2009). Barlaz et al. (2009) also reported that plastic and

    plastic pieces are increasing in natural areas where they harm the ecosystems by directly

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 13

    impacting wildlife such as choking and starving animals, distributing invasive species, absorbing

    toxins, and ingesting micro-plastic. Global distribution of micro-plastic fragments has increased

    over the past decades and is likely to continue to do so (Barlaz et al., 2009).

    While these bottles harm the environment if they are not disposed of properly, they also

    may harm people if they are not used properlyplastic bottles are made for one time use. Walls-

    Thumma conducted research and found that there were significantly more bacteria inside plastic

    water bottles that have been reused. While these plastic bottles are made for one time usage,

    stainless steel bottles are made to be used for years. Stainless steel is meant to last over ten years

    (West Marine), usually ranging from fifteen to thirty years (John, 2013).

    Even though these stainless steel bottles are made to have a long shelf-life, they do not

    last forever. Once someone is finished with their bottle, the stainless steel bottle is recyclable

    (ACUA, 2012), which lowers the CO2 emissions from producing stainless steel by 33% (Socit

    de Calcul Mathmatique SA, 2010). According to the International Stainless Steel Forum (2012),

    stainless steel is one of the worlds most recycled product, even over glass and paper; 80% to

    90% of stainless steel is recycled. If it is not recycled, it may end up in a landfill, but this is

    nowhere near the magnitude of waste of plastic bottles. This significant factor, along with the

    reusability of the stainless steel bottles, makes their footprint smaller than the single-use plastic

    water bottles in this aspect. Corrugate cardboard used for shipping is also recyclable.

    Shipping

    Since the most oil is shipped from Canada (Quote Oil, 2013), once can assume that the

    oil is shipped from a particularly a large organization called Suncor Energy. This oil travels from

    the Calgary airport to the Philadelphia airport, then to K & R Plastics in Cherry Hill, NJ. After

    this, it is converted to nurdles and shipped from Cherry Hill to Pepsi Company in Mays Landing,

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 14

    NJ. It is then manufactured into Aquifina water bottles that are shipped to Richard Stockton

    College where students, staff, and faculty who travel from their homes buy. One roundtrip would

    amount for3,175.4 lbs CO2 emissions. If this process occurs once a month, that amounts for

    38,104.4 lbs CO2 emissions per year for roundtrips; if this process occurs once a week, that

    amounts for 152,417.5 lbs CO2 emissions per year for round trips; if this process occurs with

    further traveling distances than close areas in New Jersey, the CO2 emissions would increase

    significantly.

    Since China produces 70% of the worlds stainless steel (International Stainless Steel

    Forum, 2012), China most likely ships the steel to America for the bottles to be made, or ships

    the final product. Outokumpu in Shanghai, China is one of the worlds largest stainless steel

    producers (China Daily, 2012). If raw materials were shipped from Shanghai Kadi Metal Mining

    Company to Outokumpa and then made into stainless steel bottles, they would then be shipped

    from Outokumpa, China to Discount Mugs in Miami, Florida. The bottles then were shipped to

    the Philadelphia airport. After this, the bottles were taken from Philadelphia to Stockton, and

    students drove there as well, causing about 14,655.5 lbs of CO2 emissions per roundtrip (Federal

    Transit Administration, 2003-2013). If this roundtrip occurred once a month, it would amount to

    175,866.3 lbs CO2 emissions. If this were to occur once a week for a year the amount of CO2

    emissions would be 703,465.3 lbs.

    If one compares the CO2 emissions from shipment for plastic bottles and stainless steel

    bottles, one can see that, because stainless steel generally is produced in China and must be

    transported mostly by plane, the CO2 emissions are much greater for stainless steel. If the plastic

    bottles came from a different country or even a different state, this would then level out the CO2

    emissions for each material. With this case study, though, the CO2 emissions for shipping

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 15

    stainless steel are significantly higher than plastic bottles. Transporting costs for recycling at the

    ACUA would add additional CO2 emissions to each case study.

    Conclusion: Consumers Choice

    If consumers want to spend significantly less money and use a bottle that creates less

    waste from the end product, then the consumer should use stainless steel bottles. It would be a

    lie, though, to say that stainless steel bottles are completely green. Both plastic and stainless steel

    require huge amounts of energy and water to produce while giving off many CO2 emissions.

    Mining and shipping containers contribute significantly to deforestation, while producing and

    shipping stainless steel requires tons of energy. Although stainless steel bottles are not as eco-

    friendly as I initially thought. How much better one bottle over the other relies on human

    consumption of the product. Since single-use, plastic water bottles are consumed on such a

    greater scale than reusable, stainless steel bottles, the plastic bottles are more harmful to the

    environment. The true reasons that make stainless steel bottles better are the fact that they can

    be used for decades before recycled and are recycled at a higher rate than plastic bottles, they are

    safer for human health, and they cost less.

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 16

    Figures

    Figure 1: Diagram of Barrel of oil

    (Gibson, 2009).

    Figure 2: Method of refining oil (Gibson, 2009).

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 17

    Figure 3: Water treatment plant diagram (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004).

    Figure 4: A typical stainless steel production facility (Key to Metals, 2008).

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 18

    Figure 5: Vacuum Oxygen Decarburization (VOD) unit (Key to Metals, 2008).

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    Ecological Footprint: Single-use, plastic bottles vs. reusable, stainless steel bottles 19

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    Appendices

    i. Emissions Calculations17 million barrels of crude oil used in America per year (Didier; Scholtus, 2009; Back2Tap,

    2008; Pacific Institute, 2006). Using facts such as these and standards from Bliss (2008) there is

    about 5.9 million tons of CO2 emissions per year from crude oil.

    17,000,000 X 317 kg = 5.4 billion kg5,400,000,000 kg X 2.20462 kg/ 1 pound = 11.8 billion lbs

    11,800,000,000 lbs X 1 ton/ 2,000 lbs = 5.9 million tons

    According to Pacific Institute, in 2006, manufacturing every ton of PET for the plastic water

    bottles creates 3 tons of CO2 emissions. From crude oil and production emissions, there are about

    9.8 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.

    3 tons of CO2 emssions X 1.3 million tons = 3.9 million tons of CO2 emissions3.9 million tons of CO2 emissions + 5.9 million tons of CO2 emissions =

    9.8 millino tons of CO2 emissions

    According to the International Stainless Steel Forum (2012), 3.81 tons of CO2 emissions are

    produced per tons of stainless steelthis would create about 3.6 million tons of CO2 emissions.

    14,000,000 million tons of stainless steel X 0.2 / 3 = 0.93333333 million tons ofstainless steel

    0.933333333 million tons of stainless steel X 3.81 tons of CO

    2

    emissions/ 1 ton of

    steel = 3.6 million tons of CO2 emissions

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    ii. Shipment CalculationsFuel Conversions

    Jet Fuel contributes 70.88 kg CO2 / MMBtu (U. S. Energy Information Agency, 2013)70.88 kg CO2 / MMBtu X 2.20462 kg/ pound = 156.3 lbs CO2 / MMBtu

    156.3 lbs CO2 / MMBtu X 1Btu/ 1,000,000 MMBtu = 0.00015626 lbs CO2 / Btu

    0.00015626 lbs CO2 / Btu X 124,884.4 Btu/ gallon = 19.5 lbs CO2 / gallon

    Plastic Water Bottle Shipment Case Study

    Oil Shipment Roundtrip: 22.4 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck= 3.7 gallons

    3.7 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 74.7 lbs CO2 emissions

    4049.2 miles/ 30 miles per gallon for airplane = 135 gallons

    135 gallons X 19.5 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 2,632 lbs CO2 emissions

    36 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck = 6 gallons

    6 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 120 lbs CO2 emissions

    Nurdles Shipment Roundtrip: 80 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck= 13.3 gallons

    13.3 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 266.7 lbs CO2 emissions

    20 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck = 3.3 gallons

    3.3 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 66.7 lbs CO2 emissions

    Customer Shipment Roundtrip: 20 miles/ 26 miles per gallon for average vehicle

    = 0.77 gallons

    0.77 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 15.4 lbs CO2 emissions

    74.7 + 2,632 + 120 + 266.7 + 66.7 + 15.4 = 3,175.4 lbs CO2 emissions

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    3,175.4 lbs CO2 emissions X 12 = 38,104.4 lbs CO2 emissions 3,175.4 lbs CO2 emissions X 12 = 152,417.5 lbs CO2 emissions

    Stainless Steel Bottle Shipment Case Study

    Raw Materials Shipment Roundtrip: 15 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck= 2.5 gallons

    2.5 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 50 lbs CO2 emissions

    468 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck = 78 gallons

    78 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 1,560 lbs CO2 emissions

    Bottle Shipment Roundtrip: 100 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck= 16.7 gallons

    16.7 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 333.3 lbs CO2 emissions

    16,831.4 miles/ 30 miles per gallon for airplane = 561 gallons

    561 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 10,940.4 lbs CO2 emissions

    24.9 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck = 4.1 gallons

    4.1 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 83 lbs CO2 emissions

    2,036 miles/ 30 miles per gallon for airplane = 67.9 gallons

    67.9 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 1,323.4 lbs CO2 emissions

    105 miles/ 6 miles per gallon for delivery truck = 17.5 gallons

    17.5 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 350 lbs CO2 emissions

    Customer Shipment Roundtrip: 20 miles/ 26 miles per gallon for average vehicle= 0.77 gallons

    0.77 gallons X 20 lbs CO2 emissions/ gallon = 15.4 lbs CO2 emissions

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    50 + 1,560 + 333.3 + 10,940.4 + 83 + 1,323.4 + 350 + 15.4= 14,655.5 lbs CO2 emissions

    14,655.5 lbs CO2 emissions X 12 = 175,866.3 lbs CO2 emissions 14,655.5 lbs CO2 emissions X 12 = 703,465.3 lbs CO2 emissions

    Acknowledgements

    Id like to thank Michelle Bellinger for explaining how the ACUA conducts its business, even

    though this was not specifically used in the essay, it helped me understand the processbetter. Id

    also like to thank Jackie Kondrk for explaining the ideas behind understanding the combustion of

    a gallon of gasoline. Id like to thank Dr. Chirenje for confirming questions Ive had about this

    essay. But most of all, Id like to thank all those who use items and sincerely think about what

    went into the product and appreciate it; I know I have been converted to this type of person

    because of this essay and am grateful for that.