Cancun and the Riviera Maya are the principal tourist destinations in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (QRoo). QRoo has been designated as the touristic focal point of the country pinning it as number one in Mexico and Latin America. In the last five years, QRoo has received around 65 million visitors making it one of the main tourist destinations in the world.
In 2018, according to SECTUR (Secretario de Tuismo), a total of 13,607,848 visitors (a 5% increase from 2017) were recorded in QRoo including the Riviera Maya and Cozumel. This total number also includes 5,523,882 passengers who arrived on 1,674 cruise ships in Cozumel and the Costa Maya.
Though the tourism industry is a powerful engine that drives QRoo’s social and economic development it is also a large contributor to the increase in waste, especially plastic bottles.
If we assume for a moment that these 13.5 million visitors in 2018 each drank ONLY two bottles of water we can estimate that 27 million water bottles per year, or about 74,000 plastic bottles per day, were used. And, of those bottles, a half (or more!) ended up somewhere in landfills, our ocean, cenotes, beaches, jungle, and streets!
A shockingly high number! And these numbers do not take into account the population of QRoo, which was about 1.5 million in 2017, who also purchases bottled water due to the country's poor quality tap water.
According to the Commission of Water and Sanitation, Mexico is the largest consumer of plastic water bottles in the world (ahead of other large bottled water consumers such as Germany, France and Brazil) adding more than eight billion water bottles to Mexican landfills each year. In addition, Euromonitor International reports that the use of bottled water is expected to keep growing as consumers follow trends that include carbonated and flavored waters.
Unfortunately, in a country where bottled water is a multi-billion-peso industry, recycling is not yet seen as a priority. In the past years, only about 11% of produced plastic bottles are recycled. As a result, such high level of plastic waste has an extremely negative impact on our environment.
This is why the local community of business owners and individuals in QRoo has launched the “A Message in a Bottle” Initiative with the commitment to preserving the local eco-systems and to making a positive impact on the local communities.
Our mission is to promote a culture of caring for the environment by encouraging our local communities as well as the millions of visitors coming to our State each year to change their habit of using bottled water with the use of a refillable water bottle to help reduce the quantity of disposable plastic bottle waste contaminating our pristine beaches, oceans, cenotes, jungles, and streets.
By launching this Initiative we hope that businesses from giant hotel chains to small family owned companies as well as individuals will get involved in our Initiative by becoming a Refill Station or by just refilling their bottles so we can achieve our common goal to help reduce the quantity of plastic bottle trash in the area.
As Annie Leonard, Proponent of Sustainability, rightly pointed out “there is no such thing as “away”. When you throw something away it must go somewhere!” She estimates that enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth more than five times!
A Message in a Bottle is, therefore, sending this message to the world…rethink your habits, refill your bottles, reduce waste! Only by working together can we leave a better environment behind for future generations!
Find out more about how it works and how you can get involved in the Initiative by becoming a Refill Station.