Bottled Water Creating A Mess

Bottled water AP (file)

Californians are passionate about good health and good environment—-and what better symbol of both than good, clean water?

But, as CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports, the 1.5 billion gallons of bottled water guzzled up by Californians last year are doing more than just satisfying thirst: All those little bottles are creating one big mess.

Nationwide, about three million bottles of water are thrown out every day, more than one billion a year, and the mess is clogging up state landfills.

"They don't decompose," said Doug Corcoran, of Waste Management. "They are just the way you have them in your hand 50 years from now."

Californians are some of the best recyclers in the world, but when it comes to little water bottles, only 16% get recycled. Even the body and environmentally conscious think of them as trash.

"This is becoming ubiquitous," said Darryl Yung, Director of the California Department of Conservation. "It's as common as a cell phone in one hand, plastic bottle in the other. People don't know that these need to be recycled and can be recycled."

Some state lawmakers want to give consumers an economic incentive to recycle by doubling the deposit from 2.5 cents to 5 cents per bottle. But the legislature, which can't agree on anything these days, may not be able to agree on this either, Correspondent Whitaker points out.

Across the state, people are either indifferent towards or confused by recycling.

"If they don't have recycling bins all over the place, it's not my fault I have to throw it out," said Glenn Kennedy.

"Sometimes I can't figure it out, they say 'plastic' and you have to sit and think for a minute whether it's plastic or whatever. It's too much thinking involved," said Ella Fial.

To combat these problems, the state's Department of Conservation is running an ad campaign that hopes to remind the people who drink to their health to recycle for the health of the environment.
  • Joel Arak

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