MUCH MORE THAN JUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET–Op-ed in Alachua, High Springs, Newberry Observer

observer logo In: MUCH MORE THAN JUST A DROP IN THE BUCKET--Op-ed in Alachua, High Springs, Newberry Observer | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

Your historian has written a piece for the Observer showing how Nestle gives false implications about recycling plastic.  This destructive company is killing our planet for profit and lying about it.  And we are considering inviting them to stay in our community for several more years.


At a springs forum some time ago, a local, one-time paid consultant to Seven Springs Water Company, the water extraction people at Ginnie Springs, stated that the withdrawal was just a drop in the bucket compared to agriculture.  While technically true, there is much more involved, and the statement is very misleading.

First, even Seven Springs admits that deploying their permit would draw down the spring and the Santa Fe River by a certain percentage.  Given that the river is in recovery and down almost 30 per cent of its historic flow and that the State spends millions to maintain it, it is impossible to justify allowing any additional pumping which would have a negative impact on the water flow and surrounding eco-system.

Secondly, recent research is revealing more and more the equal or greater negative impact on us and our environment that comes from Nestlé’s astronomical volume of one-time use plastic bottles.  Just as Nestlé gives disingenuous information on their website about sustainability of water sources, so do they even more when they write about recycling plastic.  For several years in a row Nestlé has found itself in the top three or four companies in the world producing the most plastic pollution, yet they spend a large amount of space on their website explaining how much they care for the environment.

We design all of our bottles to be 100% recyclable. PET plastic, which Nestlé Waters uses to make most of our bottles, was never meant to be thrown away. It was designed to be captured, recycled, and reused again and again, and we are leading the industry in our use of recycled plastic. We are on track to nearly quadruple our use of recycled plastic, or PET, across our domestic portfolio in less than 3 years. By 2021, we will reach 25% recycled plastic across our U.S. domestic portfolio, and we plan to reach 50% PET across that same portfolio by 2025. 

There is simply no evidence that they will reach the 25 per cent goal in 2021 and even less that they will reach the 50 per cent goal by 2025.  We believe this to be pure hype.

The beginning statement is blatantly misleading because even though 100 per cent may be recyclable, far less than that is actually recycled.   Only half of all the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are collected for recycling and only 7 per cent of those collected are actually recycled.  Overall, only about 9 per cent of the plastic produced is recycled, and this is partly because it costs less to produce a plastic bottle using new plastic.

Nestlé also misleads with its language choices – they describe their ongoing activities by using words and phrases such as exploring innovative packaging…  we are trying to find new technologies… We have a variety of other projects in development…  we are on track… we plan…

Over 90 per cent of the plastic goes into our road ditches, streets, rivers, oceans, and landfills or is incinerated.  Burning plastic may produce air pollutants which include cancer-causing dioxins/furans, mercury, cadmium and lead.  Microplastics also enter our bodies and remain there with a potential health threat not yet fully understood.  There is no place on our planet, no matter how remote, that plastic pollution has not reached.

Nestlé may or may not be working hard to reduce the trash they leave behind, but no matter how they try, it will not be enough.  By their own figures we can calculate that, when their new lines are operational, they have the potential to produce six thousand bottles per minute.

We have said before, but it is worth repeating:  If your neighbor dumped 6,000 empty bottles on your lawn and after you complained, he picked up about 500 of them and left 5,500 and then expected you to praise him, what would your reaction be?

Jim Tatum is historian for Our Santa Fe River, Inc. of Fort White Florida





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