Water bottle recycling provides second chances
In the last decade water bottle sales have increased more than 500 percent, unfortunately the number of those bottles being recycled isn’t nearly as impressive – in Germany alone a staggering $300 million worth are not recycled. This spurred the Enactus team at the University of Regensburg to devise a way to increase the number of properly recycled bottles while also increasing opportunities for disadvantaged members of their community.
The team learned that although community members are aware that it takes years for these bottles to break down in a landfill, the desire to protect the environment was overshadowed by limited access to recycling facilities. To change this, they established special containers to allow people convenient, on-the-go recycling. Then, they employed mentally disabled individuals who are often unable to hold full-time jobs to empty the containers and collect the recycling deposits. The entire effort is funded with deposit money and new containers are obtained by selling CSR advertising space to area businesses.
Since its inception, more than 200,000 bottles have been recycled through the “Bottles for a Better Life” project, which has saved 50,000 liters of oil and 1,000,000 liters of water. It has generated $16,400 in revenue and four mentally disabled individuals are now better integrated into society and can enjoy sustainable employment. Due to its success, the project has been franchised and more disadvantaged individuals will soon be employed.