About two weeks ago, my roommate Svetlana and I were walking around the Meatpacking District as we waited for our other friend Lauren to meet up with us for brunch. There just so happened to be a food festival going on, so we decided to check out some of the tents. Most of them were food samples from different restaurants in NYC, but what caught my eye was the booth that sold biodegradable water bottles.
I stopped by the Ciao water bottle booth solely because I was thirsty and wanted to buy some water. And then I saw that the brochure advertising that the Ciao water bottle is biodegradable. The salesperson said that the bottle was made out of a special type of plastic that would biodegrade in 2-5 years, versus the estimated 100 years it would take for a regular water bottle to biodegrade. Interesting! I walked away not only with my interest piqued and my thirst quenched, but I felt good about drinking from a biodegradable water bottle!
Based on the research I did on Ciao, the bottle is made from a petroleum based plastic that is enjected with an enzyme called Reverte. When the enzyme comes into contact with the UV spectrum of light, oxygen, and moisture, the enzyme breaks and separates the chains of plastic molecules of the bottle.
That sounds pretty cool to me. But, I’d have to do more research regarding whether or not this really is the next best thing since the CFL lightbulb. Having the right microorganisms, temperature and humidity is required to avoid harmful greenhouse gas release during biodegradation. So I’m wondering if the biodegradation of the Ciao water bottles would actually biodegrade properly without releaseing methane or other greenhouse gases in the environment of landfills. The website says that it wont, but I guess we won’t know until it people actually test it.
Despite this concern, I still think it’s amazing that people are starting companies that really focus on making the environment a better place. I try to drink from a BPA-free plastic water bottle as much as I can, but I admit that sometimes when I’m on the run it is really convenient to just buy a bottle of water. The ugly truth is that plastic bottles won’t go away. Statistics show that the percentage of plastic bottles that were recycled in 2009 was 28% - which really is not that much, since there were 5.1 billion pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and jars available in the U.S. for recycling in 2009. Yes, the best solution is the substitute all plastic bottles. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. So the next best thing is to be innovative with the actual bottles. I think it’s a great step in the right direction towards environmental sustainability.
In New York City, you can find Ciao water bottles sold at University Deli on University and 13th and at Andy’s Deli on 18th and Broadway. Hopefully more distribution channels to come in the future!