Iran’s environmental body takes unprecedented step in fight against plastic pollution

January 22, 2018 - 10:53

TEHRAN — In a bid for public engagement Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) has banned bottled water at the DOE offices and all other organizations affiliated with it nationwide.

Following a formal request submitted by DOE’s deputy director for international affairs, innovation and socio-cultural engagement Kaveh Madani, DOE’s chief Issa Kalantari has mandated all organizations associated with it to ban the use of bottled water throughout the whole country. 

The world renowned water scientist has explained in his proposal to ban bottled water, that large-scale waste production, particularly non-biodegradable plastic waste, is currently one of the main environmental challenges in the country and plastic bottles accounts for a great share of the waste. 

While bottled water is banned from all DOE’s offices across the country (except for a limited number of locations without access to safe piped drinking water) DOE is going to invite all other governmental organizations to voluntarily join the environmental campaign against use of bottled water, as suggested by Madani. 

The proposal also suggests adoption of a law in the cabinet to ban bottled water in all governmental bodies. 

As Madani has said, doing so, especially at an organization which is in charge of protection of the environment, would create a culture in the society and encourage people to feel responsible for the environment. 

According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. In fact, it takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water contained in the bottle.

The Pacific Institute, a non-profit research organization, estimates that the energy used in the production and use of plastic bottles, such as water bottles, is equivalent to filling the plastic bottles one-quarter full with oil. Oil affects global warming by producing high quantities of greenhouse gases when it is burned. Manufacturing one pound of PET -- polyethylene terephthalate -- plastic can produce up to three pounds of carbon dioxide. Processing plastic resins and transporting plastic bottles are major contributors to a bottle's carbon footprint. The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable estimates that one 500-milliliter (0.53 quarts) plastic bottle of water has a total carbon footprint equal to 82.8 grams (about 3 ounces) of carbon dioxide.

In an article published by the Guardian in January 2017 titled “A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change'” it is predicted that the environmental crisis that can be sparked off by plastic bottles will be as serious as climate change. 

A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021. According to the article, about 300bn plastic bottles sold a decade ago, while more than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun. By 2021, this will increase to 583.3bn, according to the most up-to-date estimates from Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends report.

It goes from bad to worse as fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead, most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean.


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