Today is World Water Day. It was designated by the United Nations at a General Assembly in the early nineties and has been gaining importance every year since. We have to admit that this year is also the first time we have really put it on our radar. Simply because we have two clients, Mitte and Dopper, for whom World Water Day plays an important role in their PR and communications work. But regardless of that, we will continue to value this day in the future and think about our own handling of water as a resource. Because the great thing about our job is that, on the one hand, we naturally enjoy communicating creatively for brands and, on the other hand, we also learn a lot of new things with every client we look after. And we learn from a wide variety of industries and topics.
STUDY: WHAT DO GERMANS KNOW ABOUT DISPOSABLE BOTTLES?
Dopper, for example, is a Dutch company that manufactures reusable drinking bottles. Dopper bottles come in different sizes and materials. The company is b-corp certified, recently achieved carbon neutrality, and has a Net Zero strategy. The complete range of drinking bottles also carries a cradle-to-cradle certification. On the occasion of World Water Day, we had the idea to initiate a representative survey* in Germany to reveal what Germans think about the use of disposable water bottles: Do Germans know how long it takes for a PET bottle to decompose in the ocean? Do they know how many tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year? Can you correctly estimate the period of time in which two million single-use plastic bottles are consumed in Germany?
The results of the survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Dopper at the beginning of the month are alarming. They show that the impact of single-use plastic bottles on our environment in Germany is significantly underestimated.
Around eight million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. But a large proportion of those surveyed are not in a position to assess this figure correctly. For example, 41 percent stated this figure to be significantly lower. Almost a quarter also said they simply had no idea at all and were unable to estimate the figure. The mass of plastic waste in local waters is also misjudged. About ten tons of plastic enter the North Sea through the Rhine every year. Four out of ten respondents think it is less. And here again, a quarter of Germans have no idea at all and answer that they cannot or do not want to quantify the amount.
139 MILLION TONS OF PLASTIC IN OCEANS AND RIVERS
A recent OECD report estimates the amount of plastic currently in the world’s oceans and rivers at around 139 million tons – an unimaginably large mass for most people. The results of the YouGov survey show that Germans in particular have no real idea how long it takes for PET bottles to decompose in the ocean. At around 450 years, this period is in reality four to five times as long as a large proportion of Germans assume. Only 7 percent of those surveyed were able to estimate this period correctly.
But there is also reason for hope: younger people tend to estimate the environmental impact of single-use plastic more correctly than older people. For example, among 18- to 24-year-olds, around one-fifth more were correct when it came to estimating the period of time in which two million single-use plastic bottles are consumed in Germany: one hour.
ONE DOPPER BOTTLE REPLACES FIVE KILOS OF SINGLE-USE PLASTIC
We are also optimistic about the figures published by Dopper in an impact analysis it conducted itself: Each reusable drinking bottle replaces at least five kilograms of single-use plastic during the period of its use. Compared to the sales figures for 2021, Dopper users could save a total of almost ten tons of plastic and prevent it from ending up in the world’s oceans – and the trend is rising.
Exciting, isn’t it? Since we started working for Dopper and Mitte, we’ve become even more aware of water as a resource. Especially now that spring is here and summer is just around the corner, you should make sure you always have a bottle of water with you so you don’t have to resort to disposable bottles from the kiosk when you’re out and about. And after all, a Dopper bottle looks much better, doesn’t it?
Who’s taking part? #Smallstepsmatter
A blog post by Christine Veauthier
*Data used is based on an online survey conducted by YouGov Deutschland GmbH, in which 2,070 people participated between March 11 and 14, 2022. The results were weighted and are representative of the German population aged 18 and over.