Snapple shouldn’t mix single-use plastic with “the best stuff on earth”

Kirk Weinert
Jun 10 · 3 min read

Which of these three phrases does not belong with the others on the label of a Snapple “Takes 2 to Mango Tea” my daughter recently bought?

“All Natural”

“Made from the BEST stuff on EARTH!”

“Plastic Bottle!”

By the way, I didn’t add the exclamation mark to the last phrase. For some inscrutable reason, the company that has long marketed itself as ecologically conscious has decided to brag about switching from glass to plastic containers.

Perhaps anticipating that plastic bottles showing up in the intestines of dead whales isn’t a good look, Snapple assures the world that their containers are “made from a non-BPA (bisphenol A) material and are 100 percent recyclable, just like our glass ones.”

May I please take this opportunity to nominate the word “recyclable” for the 2019 Most Misleading Word In The English Language award. Saying a plastic bottle is “recyclable” is not that different from declaring I’m “eligible” to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The recycling rate for glass containers is bad enough in the United States: 33 percent overall, though much higher in states with bottle bills. (For comparison, it’s around 90 percent in Switzerland, Germany, and some other European countries.)

But the plastic bottle rate is even lower … and it’s getting worse. According to the Association of Plastic Recyclers and the American Chemistry Council, their recycling rate was 29.3 percent in 2017, down from 29.8 percent the year before. And that’s before Malaysia became the latest developing country to turn back shipments of plastic waste, saying last week, in the words of its environment minister, it would “not be a dumping ground to the world.”

The real reason for Snapple’s shift is hidden in plain sight on their “Real Facts” web page: Plastic bottles are “easier for distributors and retailers to handle.”

I get it. Plastic bottles bounce instead of crack when dropped from a forklift, and that’s good for Snapple’s bottom line. It even allows the company to charge less — not that I’ve noticed a price change since the plastic bottles were introduced last year.

But there are certain short-term financial costs that we all need to bear for our own long-term good. And that goes double for a company that has staked its reputation on being “natural.”

So, Environmental Action’s Thneed Trophy for June 2019 is dubiously awarded to the Snapple Beverage Corp. for its very-unnatural plastic bottles . . .and, perhaps more disappointing, for bragging about them. Exclamation points matter.

* * * * *

The Thneed Trophy is awarded monthly by Environmental Action to a product that exemplifies the spirit of The Lorax’s “thneed”. It’s the thing that everyone wants but nobody needs, for which all of the Truffula Trees were cut down. In other words, bad for the environment, with little or no redeeming social value.

This message is not associated with or endorsed by the creators or the publishers of “The Lorax.”

The Public Interest Network

The Public Interest Network runs organizations committed to our vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done. https://publicinterestnetwork.org/

Kirk Weinert

Written by

The Public Interest Network

The Public Interest Network runs organizations committed to our vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done. https://publicinterestnetwork.org/

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