“About Bottles.” By Allan Goldhammer

About Bottles: My calculations from information in the Niagara bottling plant Environmental Assessment Form made by Chazen Companies for the Town of Ulster. 


The “Full Environmental Assessment Form” (EAF) was part of the report

The EAF says (at D.2. j.ii.) that 260 trucks would enter and leave the site daily, a total of 520 trips/day.

24 hours x 60 minutes = 1440 minutes/day
1440 m/d / 520 truck trips = 2.76 minutes between trucks, if they travel night and day, and are evenly spaced. 

The EAF says (at D.2.c.i.) that the maximum amount of water which would be taken from, Cooper Lake would be 1.75 million gallons per day (Mg/d).
The EAF says (at D.2.d.i.) that total liquid waste generation would be 345,000 gallons/day, which is .345Mg/d.
The company website, at niagarawater.com/beverages says that their most popular size is 16.9 ounces (oz).

1.75Mg/d – .345Mg/d = 1.405Mg/d
1.405Mg/d x 128oz/gallon = 179.84Moz/d
179.84Moz/d / 16.9oz/bottle = 10.64million bottles/day 
10.64Mbottles/d / 260 outbound trucks = .0409Mbottles/outbound truck = 40,900 bottles per truck. 

10.64Mbottles/d x 30d/month = 319.24million bottles per month
10.64Mbottles/d x 365d/year = 3.884 billion bottles per year

The EAF says [at D.2.r.i.] 6.6tons of solid waste will be generated each month. I am assuming that they mean the various waste ancillary to the production, and not the actual bottles, which will become solid waste in a matter of days or weeks. For the purposes of this exercise, I will assume that the bottles SHOULD BE INCLUDED as solid waste in the EAF.

1 ton = 2000pounds
1 pound = 16 ounces
1 ton = 2000 x 16 = 32000 oz/ton
6.6tons x 32000oz/ton = 211,200oz of solid waste per month
211,200oz/ 319,240,000 bottles = .0006616 per bottle … if no bottles were recycled and all went to solid waste.

This seems very light for a bottle. Perhaps, under the EAF assumptions, most of the bottles were to be recycled. If 99% of the bottles were recycled, then each bottle might weigh 100 times as much as the last calculation assumes.

.0006616 oz/bottle x 100 = .06616oz/bottle. 
This still seems light. If 99.9% of the bottles were recycled, then each bottle might weigh 1000 times as much as the ‘not recycled’ calculation.

.0006616 oz/bottle x 1000 = .6616oz/bottle. 
This might be a bit heavy. It seems to me that the EAF would have to be assuming that between 99% and 99.9% of the bottles would be recycled. At the meeting this tuesday night at Kingston City Hall, I heard Alex Beauchamp from Food and Water Watch say that way less than that gets recycled. Did he say that 4 of 5 bottles go to landfill?

The Niagara company has won awards for its lightweight ‘Eco-Air Bottle’ which uses 60% less than a regular bottle and is 100% recyclable. Someone should go weigh these bottles and do some calculations. How much plastic would this Niagara bottling plant use every year? Use a very good scale, and weigh as many bottles as you can find, dry of course, then divide by the number of bottles to get a reasonable guess at an average weight. 
How many of those bottles would end up as solid waste? 

I also started to learn a little about measuring water flows, in order to visualize how much water 1.75Mg/d is in erms of stream flow. It is not a huge stream. Try looking at LINK.

I think a v-notch wier is a good way to think about it. It should take an hour or so to read enough to have some sense of converting “Mg/d” numbers to a visceral sense of how this might affect a stream flow. This is very different from how it might affect a standing body of water, because the flow would be continuing indefinitely and a lot of water could be used. It gets complex to think about this stuff. Does it really have long term affects on water table recharge if bottled water is trucked away? Even though the watershed is getting water input from cloud which travel from a distance? Perhaps thinking about how the ‘net flows’ are manifested by the water level in the lake, which varies over time, could help with this. How much of current water useage is not delivered back into the Cooper Lake watershed? I am not a hydrologist. You will have to learn that on your own, or find people to talk to. Ask several people, as I suspect that views and opinions vary.

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