Annually, the lifestyle of the average American generates about 66 pounds of packaging--cans, jars, bottles, wrappers, boxes, etc. Some of that may end up as litter. A disappointingly small percentage is recycled. Most of it goes to the landfill; in one Iowa county, 37% of landfilled material is packaging.
Without factoring in disposal and and environmental costs, packaging accounts for at least ten percent of product cost to the consumer. Packaging for health and beauty products can cost three times as much as what it contains. Says a British commentator: "It's crazy. You pay more for the packaging than the ingredients and then you have to pay again to chuck the wretched stuff away."
In terms of overall financial impact, beverages (bottled, canned, and boxed) certainly lead the league. Bottled water stands out--ninety percent of the cost of this product is due to the bottle itself. Bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water; for the price of one bottle of Evian, a San Francisco resident can receive 1,000 gallons of some of the nation's highest quality tap water. Since the average American consumes 167 bottles of water per year and since bottled water is the second most popular US beverage, the fact that it takes 24 million gallons of oil to produce every billion plastic bottles is far from insignificant. Actually, it would be difficult to design and globally implement a more inefficient way to supply water!
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