Plastic is valuable
Recycling demand outstrips supply
Valuable Public Service
Recycling 1 ton of plastic bottles saves 1 ˝ tons of CO,
versus landfill, or incineration
- It takes 19 × 500 ml PET bottles to make the fibre for
a standard pillow
- 14 × 600 ml PET bottles yield enough fibre for an
extra large T-shirt.
Discarded PET bottles are collected, baled and delivered to
the PET Recycling /reprocessing plant, where they are colour
sorted, washed, granulated, re-washed, extruded into strips
and cut into pellets.
Recycled PET can be used to
make many new products, including fibre for polyester
carpet, fabric for T-shirts, long underwear, athletic shoes,
luggage, upholstery and sweaters, fiberfill for sleeping
bags and winter coats, industrial strapping, sheet and film,
automotive parts, such as luggage racks, headliners, fuse
boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels, and new PET
containers for both food and non-food products.
PET stands for a polyethylene terephthalate,
a plastic resin and a form of polyester. Polyethylene
terephthalate is a polymer that is formed by combining two
monomers called modified ethylene glycol and purified
PET is the type of plastic labeled with #1 code on or
near bottom of bottles and containers. The PET container is
recognizable as the transparent, rigid container used to
package bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, sports
drinks, water, juice, household cleaners and food trays. It
is a popular package for food and non-food products.
Manufacturers use PET plastic to package products because of
its strength, thermo-stability and transparency. Customers
choose PET because it is inexpensive, lightweight,
reasonable, shatter-resistant and recyclable.
wondered what happens to your plastic soft-drink bottles
after you have discarded them?
Most of them are thrown into trash bins and end up in one of
the South Africa’s strained land fill sites. A
more viable and environmentally friendly alternative is to
deliver them to the plastics recovery stations recently set
up at municipal drop off centres, for recovery and
The volume of plastic waste, particularly bottles, fills
up enormous amount of space and takes thousands of years to
degrade. “The plastic that bottles are made from,
polyethylene terephthalate or PET, is tough, resilient and
100 % recyclable.
Each drop-off centre has a plastics
recovery station with clearly marked, dedicated bags for
different types of plastic, making it easy to sort PET
bottles from other plastics before dropping them into
correct bag. Under each plastic container is an
identification logo in the form of a triangle with a number
inside it to assist in correctly identifying the
plastic for recycling. These should be separated for
recycling. To find the nearest drop-off point, please visit
“Drop-off sites take PET, HD-PE and LD-PE plastics only.” By
dropping off their used plastic containers, the public is
helping contribute to a cleaner environment, more jobs and
reduced costs for local authorities. This contribution is
critical as 90% of PET is currently collected from landfill
sites where it is contaminated and more difficult to sort.
In addition, it would make life even easier if the caps were
removed from bottles before they are deposited at the
Still mineral water normally bears a two-year expiry date. However this is used as a lot number for stock rotation purposes. It does not mean the product is sub-standard after this date. The Department of Health, which regulates the safety of bottled natural mineral water, has not set any limitation to the shelf life of bottled water. If stored appropriately still natural mineral water will keep indefinitely. Appropriate conditions for bottled water storage is in a dark, cool, dry area away from any solvents, chemicals or any substance which has strong odours. This applies especially to water in plastic bottles.
Sparkling water on the other hand has a limited shelf life, due to the carbon dioxide which slowly dissipates through the walls of the plastic container and the plastic caps. After a long storage period this water will not have enough sparkle and will be flat. Sparkling water in glass bottles with metal closures have a much longer shelf life than water in plastic bottles. Consumers should also make sure that the bottle still has the factory seal in-tact. Do not accept any product if the seal has been broken, as the quality of the contents can then not be guaranteed.
All our members carry the SANBWA logo on their labels. Look out for an ostrich egg with a rivulet running through it, it also has the letters SANBWA incorporated into it.
Yes! Natural bottled water is constantly scrutinised by uninformed individuals regarding its microbiological content – the aim being to cause a sensationalist stir based upon very little scientific knowledge.
Sterile water is rarely found in nature. Water obtained even from deep wells and springs contains a few bacteria. These organisms may be designated as the normal or natural water flora as they are constantly present and in no case are capable of producing disease in man. Humans ingest large numbers of microbes daily. Microbes that can multiply in humans and cause disease can grow in food, but do not multiply in drinking water. Virtually all food sources contain many thousand times more bacteria than drinking water. Naturally occurring bacteria
(Heterotropic Plate Count/ HPC) do not have virulence factors, making their numbers irrelevant to health risk except in the case of the most severely
immunocompromised- a very defined population group.
Critical Reviews in Microbiology, 28(3): 249 – 279 (2002)
A study performed by the Division of Water Environment and Forestry Technology, CSIR on “Shelf life of sealed South African Bottled Waters Microbiological Quality” (Report Number:
ENV-P-I 98154) revealed the following:
The results of this study show that heterotropic plate count, or total colony count, cannot be used to determine the shelf life of bottled water or be used as a indicator of the degree of contamination of the water and the resultant risk to consumers.
Bacterial growth in bottled waters after bottling is a natural process even in waters which have been treated by filtration and/or ultra violet irradiation. Maximum bacteria counts are usually attained within the first month after bottling, reaching levels of 10 – 100 000 cfu per ml.”
A clear distinction should be made, when looking at natural bottled water quality, between the presence of pathogenic microorganisms and the natural microflora found in water from natural sources. Natural mineral water is prepared with the utmost care as not to disturb the natural properties received from nature or to compromise the product quality by contamination with pathogens. The naturally occurring organisms are harmless to human health. Local and international regulations do not allow any treatment of natural water that would alter the original composition the water had at source.
The recent subject of a widely circulated email claims that a student project have found carcinogenic compounds in water sampled -from reused bottles.
These claims stemmed from a University of Idaho student’s master theses that was promoted in the media but not subjected to peer review, FDA review or published in a scientific or technical journal. This project did not reflect a level of scientific rigor that would provide accurate and reliable results. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) requires a much higher standard to make decisions about the safety of food-contact packaging.
Most water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The FDA has determined that PET meets standards for food contact materials and thus permits the use of PET in food and beverage packaging for both single use and repeated use. FDA has also evaluated test data that simulate long-term storage and these results support repeated use.
The toxicological properties of PET and any compounds that might migrate under test conditions have also been well studied. These results demonstrate that PET is safe for its intended uses.
The student’s thesis incorrectly identified di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate
(DEHA), a plastics additive, as a human carcinogen. DEHA is neither regulated or is it classified as a human carcinogen by the U.. Safety and Health Administration, the National Toxicology Program or the International Agency for research on cancer, the leading authorities on carcinogenic
stubstances. DEHA is not inherent in PET as a raw material, byproduct or decomposition product. DEHA is a common plasticizer that is used in innumerable plastic items, many of which are found in the laboratory. Thus, the student’s detection of DEHA is likely to have been the result of inadvertent laboratory contamination. This is supported by the fact that DEHA was detected infrequently in approximately 6% of the samples as well as randomly. This means that the frequency of DEHA detection bore no relationship to the test conditions.
DEHA has been cleared by FDA for food contact applications and would not pose a health risk even if it were present.
Finally in June 2003, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research conducted a scientific study of migration in new and reused plastic water bottles from three countries. This study did not find DEHA at concentrations significantly above the background levels detected in distilled water, indicating that DEHA was unlikely to have migrated from the bottles. The study concluded that the levels of DEHA were distinctly below the World Health Organisation guidelines for safe drinking water.
We would like to stress the consumer’s role in responsibly re-using containers. Proper cleaning between uses should always be done as with any other container. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments. Once bacteria have been introduced, any drinking container becomes a suitable environment for bacterial growth. Consumers should clean any drinking container with hot soapy water and dry thoroughly between uses. Furthermore one should never store household chemicals in containers meant for beverages for human consumption.
The bottled water produced by SANBWA members must meet standards that are, in some cases, stricter than the Department of Health’s regulations. SANBWA has developed a quality assurance manual, which is a strict set of standards for the safe processing of bottled water. All members of SANBWA must meet the standards contained in the Guidelines and Standards for Bottling Lines. This is a document prepared by SANBWA which sets the minimum standards to which our members must adhere.
Additionally, as a condition of membership, bottlers are
subject to an annual inspection administered by third
party independent auditors. This inspection assures that all SANBWA bottler members meet SANBWA requirements for membership.
If a bottler fails the inspection, the bottler must take corrective action to rectify the problem. SANBWA fully documents and verifies the corrective measures that were taken. Any deficiencies discovered during the visit must be corrected within a couple of weeks, in addition a second inspection is performed to verify corrective action.
To get a source approved, a bottler needs to have the source inspected by a qualified professional
hydrogeologist, and the water needs to be sampled and analysed to ensure that it is safe to drink.
Source protection involves maintaining the water source in such a way that it is not exposed to, or influenced by, contamination. By selecting appropriate sources, it is possible to ensure that the water taken from the source is not susceptible to environmental contaminants, or any agricultural or industrial pollutants. Combined with source monitoring, source protection is an effective way of ensuring bottled water’s safety and purity.
Source monitoring involves a series of tests and procedures designed to determine whether a source is suitable for use. For example, on a weekly basis tests are conducted to evaluate the microbiological characteristics of a source. Sources are tested on an annual basis for chemical and physical characteristics. Once a source is selected, it is monitored, ensuring bottled water of high quality. In addition, natural underground sources must be inspected, tested and certified to be of sanitary quality.
One major difference is the source of origin of the water. Municipalities draw their water supply from surface water sources or groundwater sources, or a combination of the two. After withdrawal from these sources this water may have been exposed to a variety of substances. In contrast natural mineral water originates from protected underground sources. These underground sources being geological strata, through which the water passes over an extended period of time, act as geological barriers that filters the water as it passes to the aquifer. A properly protected source contains no impurities.
The specific mineral composition and taste of the water is acquired from the rock strata through which the water has moved and will differ from one geological formation to the next.
A second difference is due to the different origins and treatments the water is subjected to. Tap water is exposed to various contaminants during collection and thus it has to be treated to make it safe for human consumption. Chlorine is most widely used to treat or disinfect tap water and yields an off taste or
odour. In contrast natural mineral water is only treated by filtration as a control measure, thus no chemicals are added and no chemical sterilisation occurs, thus leaving no chemical byproducts and off- tastes.
The distribution systems for tap and natural mineral water are the third most important difference. Municipal water distribution systems rely on kilometres of piping, often antiquated, whereas bottled water is produced in food-grade plants and is packaged in clean sealed containers.
The main areas to ensure conformation are:
Ascertain that your label contains the
correct product category i.e. Natural Mineral or Spring
Water, Water defined by origin or Prepared Water.
Should you bottle Natural water
eliminate all processing/sterilisation steps as UV,
ozonation etc and ensure that filtration is kept to 0.45
micron minimum. For waters defined by origin (should you
use a natural source but do not use "Natural" on label)
antimicrobial/sterilizing processes and filtration to
0.2 micron is allowed.
For Natural water and waters defined by
origin you need to state the name of the source and a
detailed physical address on the label. In the case of
prepared water, should you make use of a public or
private tap-water distribution system, the phrase "from
a public or private distribution system" must appear on
Any processing treatment for Waters
defined by origin and Prepared water must be declared on
the label e.g. 0.2 micron filtration, ozonation, reverse
The chemical constituents must be
declared on the label for all three categories of
bottled water. Take note that it should be listed in the
very same order as stipulated in the Regulation:
Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride,
Sulphate, Alkalinity, Nitrate, Fluoride, TDS, pH, and
additionally for prepared waters, Iron and Aluminium.
You are welcome to
contact SANBWA for assistance:
Biofilm is the chemical scale matrix of
microorganisms that form in wet conditions. The slime
layer on children's toys in the bath, or in the dog's
water bowl, for example, or on the surfaces and floors in
food processing plants is a biofilm.
Biofilm form from the adherence of
microbes to surfaces. These organisms form colonies that
often become progressively more resistant to biocides
within a biofilm. This high-resistance factor, plus the
mechanism of adherence to surfaces, makes biofilm
extremely difficult to remove or control.
Most importantly, biofilm which is present
in general water systems, food processing and working
areas, within equipment, cooling towers, air conditioners
and pasteurisers etc, is often difficult to access and
extremely difficult to remove. Additionally, persistent
biofilm remains as a continuous source of recontamination
in food processing and beverage plants and is the major
cause of biofouling and biocorrosion.
Natural flavours are obtained from the
actual fruit material such as fruit juice volatiles,
essential oils (especially citrus) and even concentrated
fruit juices. Natural-identical aroma chemicals are
chemically identical (at least at molecular level) to
their natural analogies but made by chemical synthesis.
SANBWA had applied on behalf of the industry for a
twelve month implementation period. Thus this regulation
will come into effect on 28 July 2007.
The main areas to ensure conformation are:
1. Ascertain that your label contains the correct
product category i.e. Natural Mineral or Spring Water,
Water defined by origin or Prepared Water.
2. Should you bottle Natural water eliminate all
processing / sterilisation steps as UV, ozonation etc
and ensure that filtration is kept to 0.45 micron
minimum. For waters defined by origin (should you use a
natural source but do not use “Natural” on label)
antimicrobial / sterilizing processes and filtration to
0.2 micron is allowed.
3. For Natural water and waters defined by origin you
need to state the name of the source and a detailed
physical address on the label. In the case of prepared
water, should you make use of a public or private
tap-water distribution system, the phrase “from a public
or private distribution system” must appear on the
4. Any processing treatment for Waters defined by
origin and Prepared water must be declared on the label
e.g. 0.2 micron filtration, ozonation, reverse osmosis
5. The chemical constituents must be declared on the
label for all three categories of bottled water. Take
note that it should be listed in the very same order as
stipulated in the Regulation: Calcium, Magnesium,
Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Sulphate, Alkalinity,
Nitrate, Fluoride, TDS, pH, and additionally for
prepared waters, Iron and Aluminium.
The name of the product
The physical address and name of the source
Descriptions as still / non-sparkling or carbonated
The analytical composition in milligrams per litre
Calcium as Ca
Magnesium as Mg
Sodium as Na
Potassium as K
Chloride as Cl
Sulphate as SO4
Nitrate as N
Fluoride as F
Alkalinity as CaCO3
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Calcium is used to build bones and teeth. A deficiency
over a long period may lead to osteoporosis. It is also
used for coagulation of the blood and regulates heart
activity. Calcium deficiency increases the risk of high
blood pressure and heart attack.
Magnesium is essential for bones and cells, especially the
muscular cells. It helps to maintain the muscular and
nervous equilibrium. It is also used for building bones
and tendons and in the construction of many enzymes.
Sodium is essential for the exchange of water between the
cells and the intercellular medium. It is also important
for the working of muscles, enabling contraction. Together
with chlorine, sodium forms our normal salt. While too
much salt is unhealthy and a vital issue for sufferers of
kidney or heart aliments, none at all can lead to serious
malfunction in our body as well.
Potassium is needed for regulation of water in the
cells. It maintains the osmotic pressure. It is also
responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses and
for muscle contractions.Potassium helps to maintain the balance of fluids,
thus aids in preventing dehydration and excess fluid
Sulfur is essential in maintaining healthy, flexible
cells. It is also part of many enzymes.
Sulphates and Chlorides cause a brackish taste if
present in high doses.
Fluoride reduces tooth decay if found in quantities lower
than 2 mg/l but at higher levels can cause mottled teeth.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
This indicates how many minerals and other solvents are
contained in one litre of water, i.e. the mineral content.