Things Are Not As They Seem

Grind for December 20th, 2018
“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Drink Up

The Headline

Bottled water companies search for eco-friendly solutions

The Grind

Bottled water is by far America’s most popular beverage, with the average American downing more than 40+ gallons every year.

In fact, between 1994 and 2017, bottled water consumption in America increased by nearly 285%. Key factors in the increase were fears about tap water and a nationwide shift away from soda.

Now, concerns about the environment are driving sales down.

Roughly 67% of drinking water is sold in single-serve bottles. But those bottles are also the third most common item found washed up on shorelines.

To mitigate the effects of plastic on Mother Nature, zoos and other attractions have stopped selling bottled water.

In June, Seattle implemented a law banning single-use plastic straws and utensils. In countless other cities, beverages no longer come standard with a plastic straw.

In August, Pepsi purchased Soda Stream to help it go “beyond the bottle.”

The Details

Earlier this year, bottled-water maker Evian said it would use only recycled materials by 2025. Nestle said it would use only recycled or reusable packaging by 2025 and has already started to use glass and aluminum for some brands.

Considering America’s abysmal recycling rates and a lack of infrastructure, it is unclear how bottled-water makers will obtain enough of the kind of plastic they need to make their bottles.

Less than one-third of plastic bottles sold in the US are collected for recycling. Less than 1% are used to make food-grade PET plastic.

Meanwhile, French company Danone is working with Montreal-based startup Loop on a “magical” technology that breaks plastic into its base ingredients.

The process has been successful in transforming dirty plastics (like old carpet) into materials that meet regulatory standards for PET plastic.

Other companies are looking for that “clean, clear plastic bottle because that’s the only type of feedstock they can use,” says Loop CEO Daniel Solomita. “We don’t have supply constraints.”

Loop has plans to work with Pepsi, Coca-Cola (in Europe), and Evian.

You Can Do Better

The Headline

Russia: New robot displayed at state-sponsored event turns out to be a man in a suit

The Grind

Viewers in Russia were impressed when they saw the “Boris robot” featured on a state-run news channel.

Without precedent, Russian scientists had somehow developed a robot that could walk, talk, and dance just like a real person.

Turns out that’s because the robot was a real person.

The Details

Journalists uncovered the truth after asking questions about the robot’s origins and its apparent lack of sensors. They also asked why there had been no papers published or no Internet coverage of such an advanced machine.

Boris robot is actually a $3,700 costume manufactured by a company called Show Robots. According to the company’s website, the costume creates “an almost complete illusion that you have a real robot.”

“Almost” is the key word here.

In addition to its obvious flaws, journalists noted the robot was the same size as a human and made lots of unnecessary movements – not to mention the human neck clearly visible below the robot’s head.

Did you know… Every day, 1% of the world’s population is served at McDonald’s.