The Life of a Plastic Water Bottle

By Peter S. Green - 2012-10-02T21:18:26Z

Photograph by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Image

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Rising Consumption

A hot summer in Yokohama, Japan, boosted sales of bottled drinks. The surge of waste left the Tsurumi Recycling Center choked with leftover cans and plastic that were beyond its capacity to recycle.

Japan is one of the world's top recyclers. In Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, mountains of 1.5-liter plastic bottles remain two years after they were used for earthquake relief.

"Recycling isn't an immediate priority -- our priorities are lifesaving ones: food, water and shelter," said Laura Fisher, a spokeswoman for World Vision, one of the aid groups that flew in relief water after the January 2010 earthquake.

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