Plastic beverage bottles are a thing of the past at John Ball Zoo

Community News |Mar 2, 2020|3 min read

John Ball Zoo LogoContinuing with their mission to inspire our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment, John Ball Zoo has announced that beginning this season they will no longer have plastic beverage bottles in the Zoo.


Plastic soft drink bottles will be replaced by canned beverages or fountain drinks. Plastic bottled water will be replaced by Boxed Water Is Better, a sustainable choice. Vending machines will have recyclable aluminum cans.


“We are beyond excited to be partnering with John Ball Zoo, right here in West Michigan, where Boxed Water started this journey to make our planet a better place,” said Daryn Kuipers CEO of Boxed Water. “We hope this partnership and the zoo’s sustainability efforts will create ripple effects within our community. And ultimately get people to think differently about how they consume and purchase products.”


Two years ago the Zoo switched from plastic straws to compostable paper straws, and they also switched to items that look to be plastic, but are actually compostable, including; forks, spoons, knives, cups, and napkins.


“John Ball Zoo has steadily been eliminating the use of single use plastics over the past several years,” said Peter D’Arienzo, the Zoo’s Chief Executive Officer. “When we switched to compostable paper straws we saved over 8,000 plastic straws a year from not ending up in the landfill and waterways. The elimination of plastic beverage bottles continues these important efforts.”


According to experts, while most plastic bottles are “recyclable,” few are actually recycled. It is estimated that about seven of ten plastic water bottles get incinerated, dumped into landfills or left as litter. John Ball Zoo anticipates this movement from plastic beverage bottles will save 37,134 bottles in just one year.


Due to the investments at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center for the processing of singlestream recycling, John Ball Zoo and Boxed Water are well-positioned for maximum impact. Equipment upgrades have included a corrugated cardboard screen, additional optical sorting equipment and conveyor system refurbishment. The Center allows residents to easily recycle materials through a singlestream sorting process, and these equipment additions allow the county to accept even more types of materials and continue delivering high-quality services to the community. The upgrades have allowed the facility to accept paper cartons and mechanically sort corrugated cardboard to help keep up with the community’s growing recycling needs.


In 2019 Kent County Recycling Center sorted out 100 tons (200,000 pounds) of paper cartons and shipped them to paper mills in the Midwest. That’s the equivalent of seven million school milk cartons. Because people chose to recycle them, these cartons were made into new paper products and even building materials.


“We are excited about this partnership. Together with our guests who purchase Boxed Water throughout the year, we will be working to offset our carbon footprint by participating in Boxed Water’s Better Planet campaign. This campaign encourages guests to post pictures with Boxed Water on social media and use #BetterPlanet. In turn, Boxed Water works with the National Forest Foundation to plant two trees for each post. Many of these trees are planted right here in Michigan,” added Michael Lomonaco, Chief Development & Community Engagement Officer at John Ball Zoo.


These efforts combined with a variety of additional green efforts within the Zoo, along with field conservation efforts, wildlife conservation grants and species survival plans. Details on these can be found online