Reusable bottles vs plastic bottles

By Stephanie Collins

Once hailed as a pinnacle of modern conveniences, the plastic bottle has become symbolic of the fight to end plastic waste. Recently, a report commissioned by the WWF Australia estimated there to be the equivalent of 600 million bottles worth of plastic entering our environment each year, and the national plastic plan 2021 reports 130,000 tonnes of plastic in our marine environment.

The thought of millions of plastic bottles littering the oceans can leave us all feeling a little guilty and once we see those disturbing images, appalled. Bottled water has left many, myself included, with a habit of having water readily available all day every day, and that’s a hard luxury to give up. But, there are alternatives and steps we can take to reduce the number of bottles that are sent to landfill or that make their way into our oceans. These alternatives are our ammunition in this war.

With the push to move away from single use plastics a wide range of reusable bottles have hit the market. From stainless steel, glass, and reusable plastic there’s a lot of choices for maintaining a hydrated lifestyle on the go, each with its own benefits.

  • Stainless steel bottles are lightweight, made of safe food grade materials and can keep their temperature for longer
  • Glass bottles are a good option if you are worried about the taste of metal and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
  • Reusable plastic bottles are affordable and are also easy to clean

In 2015 a Roy Morgan report found that 27.1% of Australians (5.3 million people) were drinking from plastic water bottles at least once a week. Purchasing a reusable bottle not only means you have fewer plastic bottles to dispose of but you’re also spending less on water. A 1L bottle water costs around $3, for a similar price you could get 1000L of tap water, with most of the cost going into the production of the bottle itself.

Winning the war should be done safely: Why you shouldn’t reuse a plastic water bottle

It can be tempting to reuse a plastic water bottle rather than purchasing a reusable alternative; however, we do not recommend this as disposable bottles are not designed to be reused. While newer bottles made from PET plastic are safer than older ones made from plastic containing BPA; there are still some concerns that degrading plastic, especially if left in the sun, can leach harmful components into the water. Disposable plastic bottles also have thin walls that tend to crease and damage easily providing ideal spots for bacteria to hangout and grow.

What should I do with a plastic bottle?

If you do use a disposable plastic bottle, they are recyclable through your yellow-lidded kerbside recycling bin, just remember to remove the lid first and either put it in the general waste bin (it’s too small for the recycling machines) or take to a drop off centre for specialist plastic lid recycling.

WA has also begun its container deposit program in October 2020. This program aims to bring in more empty drink containers, including plastic bottles, for recycling through Containers for Change refund points. If you have any plastic, steel, aluminium, glass, or paper-board drink containers between 150 millilitres and 3 litres they can be handed in and exchanged for 10c per container. For more information or to find your local drop-off spot visit

So, what are you waiting for? Come into Churchill’s bunker and join the war on waste (bring water, it is thirsty work (in a reusable bottle, of course)).


Stephanie is a recent graduate of a Master of Science Communication from the University of Western Australia. She also has a Bachelor of Zoology, has lived in four states and territories across Australia, and is always amazed by Australia’s unique ecosystems. She loves using her communication skills to encourage people to explore and care for the environment.