Here’s How Plastic Water Bottles Can Actually Help the Environment

Turning that plastic bottle into paper can save water, trees and money.
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Turning that plastic bottle into paper can save water, trees and money.

Plastic water bottles get a pretty bad rap for being environmentally unfriendly — and deservedly so. The bottles require oil for production, fuel to be transported to grocery stores and too often wind up in landfills instead of recycling bins. But now the disposable items can be used to prevent deforestation.

That’s thanks to engineers at Cronology, a Mexico-based startup. They’ve found a way to take plastic bottles and turn them into paper that can be used for books and stationary, saving trees and water in the process.

Even as paying bills online and reading on tablets become increasingly popular, going completely paperless isn’t really an option. Currently, Mexico produces 700,000 tons of paper annually for books, notebooks and toilet paper. And making all that paper means cutting down a lot of trees — until now. For every ton of mineral paper produced, it will save 20 trees, not to mention 56,000 liters of water, according to a press release on Science Daily.

It saves on production, too. The biodegradable, water-proof paper is actually 15 percent cheaper than traditional paper manufacturing methods because it cuts out the need for the chemical component, chlorine.

Anyone who’s tried to write their name on a plastic bottle with a typical pen knows it’s no easy task. To make the bottles useable, they’re first combined with calcium carbon and transformed into plastic pellets. After being heated at 100 degrees Celsius, they’re then rolled through a machine to become sheets of paper, ready for writing and printing.

But forget about turning discarded letters in a paper airplane. This super-strong, ecological paper can’t be ripped in half by hand.

Top photo credit: iStock/italianestro