Plastic bottles have earned a bad reputation in recent years and often for good reason. But not all bottles are created equal.
It’s been a growing concern that the chemicals that leach out of plastic bottles left in the sun are dangerous for people’s health. While certain types of bottles can be harmful, not all of them are. Since Africa Water Solution’s SODIS program relies heavily on the use of plastic bottles in the sun, it’s important to outline the differences in the bottles that we use.
In our SODIS program we use PET bottles which stands for, polyethylene terephthalate. This is a form of polyester (just like the clothing fabric).
The chemicals of concern that have been leaching into water from plastics are called Bisphenol A (BPA) and antimony. While BPA is present in many plastic bottles, it is not present in PET bottles, which are the bottles used for SODIS and therefore, it poses no threat at all to SODIS users.
Antimony is present in minimal quantities in PET bottles, and antimony does leach into water from PET bottles. However, rigorous studies have proved that the level of antimony that leaches into SODIS bottles during the solar disinfection process is not a health threat. According to the World Health Organisation’s list of water contaminants, the antimony levels reached during SODIS treatment are well below the WHO’s guidelines for safe drinking water.
We use a mixture of new and lightly used PET bottles for our SODIS projects. After the bottles have reached the end of their useful SODIS lifespan (ex. if a bottle becomes too scratched, it won’t be effective for SODIS), they are recycled or repurposed for use around the house, school or place of work. Typically, the SODIS bottles are used over 1,000 times before they are recycled.
PET is a highly valued packaging material because it is strong yet lightweight, non-reactive, economical, and shatterproof. PET’s safety for food, beverage, personal care, pharmaceutical and medical applications is recognised by health authorities around the world.
Should you have any questions or concerns about our use of plastic bottles for SODIS or our sustainability, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.