Fighting fire with fire or, in this case, plastic with plastic

Forget bio-based bottles, one Dutch designer believes we should fight plastic with plastic.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Dopper bottle1Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce just one plastic bottle? It is the combination of one liter of water and one liter of oil. But how often are these recycled? Not all that often.

The state of our oceans portrays a very visual part of the problem with plastic bottles and other plastic. Greenpeace has discovered that the demand for single-use plastic bottles is continuing to grow as more than two million tonnes of throwaway plastic bottles are sold each year which is the equivalent weight of 10,000 blue whales.

Greenpeace campaigns that companies move away from single-use plastic, embrace reusable packaging and make sure the rest is made from 100 percent recycled content. But the true fact is that plastic products cannot be made from 100% recyclable content. Some part of virgin plastic will always be needed as, unlike aluminum, steel, or glass, plastic does not retain its strength and other properties.

Dopper, however, is one company looking to change these patterns of behavior and our throwaway society. The Netherlands based firm produces reusable water bottles to encourage consumers to use tap water instead of bottled water and reduce plastic waste. Their solution? Fight plastic with plastic.

The company's founder Merijn Everaarts was first inspired by watching a documentary about our world's plastic consumption. He was shocked how plastic bottles could make our oceans “change into a giant garbage patch that resembles plastic soup.”

In 2009, he noticed how many plastic water bottles were being thrown away every day and “just had to do something about it!”, as he says.

This led to the creation of Dopper, which is Dutch for “dop” or bottle cap. Everaarts wanted to use this as the stem of the name to highlight the importance of the bottle itself. It is a reusable bottle made from either high-quality plastic or steel to help reduce the impact on the environment. Almost 100 entries were submitted to design the famous bottle that is sold today. What is particularly unique about Dopper is that the cap also turns into a cup.

"Responsible behavior has become quite trendy nowadays”, Everaarts says. “Investing money in good products is a statement of a good investment that you will be able to keep for a long time. People are starting to get more aware and concerned about their environment, and that is a good sign!"

Additionally, Dopper's founder wanted to maximize the design so it could be used as more than just a reusable plastic bottle. After further innovation, the team designed a sports cap with a flexible nozzle making it easier to drink whilst working out. The new cap is shaped like the Dopper signature cap that makes the bottle so recognizable. However, its design uses a flexible material that can be folded back, allowing for easy access to the nozzle cap. Dopper wants to raise consciousness with regard to the impact of single-use plastic waste, which is why the new cap can be used on current Dopper bottles. So no extra bottles in your cupboards – all you need is an additional cap to get a new use out of your Dopper.

Even the original Dopper bottle is a design feat in itself. Not just is it a reusable plastic water bottle, it's unique design has several features that just make it the choice for a water bottle.

Another obvious answer to this growing marine issue might be to create bio-plastic bottles but from what I have seen of so-called bio-plastic is that it does not what it claims to do any much of it, such as in the case of the bottles from Pepsi and Coca Cola, is greenwash. It states that it is bio-plastic in large letters but when one reads the small-print one finds that it has only a 25-30% bio-plastic content.

For Dopper however, the amount of recycled materials isn't enough to create a closed loop as the real disadvantage to recycled plastic is the fact that it's quality is not as good as a virgin plastic.

Also even recycled plastics still contribute to marine pollution, and do not compensate for the growth in the total volume being produced. There has also been a move away from refillable bottles, low levels of recycled plastic used in drinks containers and opposition to deposit return schemes which pay people to return empty bottles.

While the Dopper bottle still is plastic and made, so I understand from virgin polymer – though a steel version can be had – using and reusing one of those with tap water is much, much better than using disposable plastic bottles with so-called mineral water, which often is nothing else than tap water itself.

© 2017