How Flint’s Water Crisis Almost Turned Into a Plastic Bottle Disaster

Read the full story at Earther.

If the water pouring out your sink is full of lead, you might reasonably turn to bottled water. That’s exactly what happened in Flint, Michigan, after the city switched its drinking water source and lead began leaching into everyone’s taps. In the first three weeks after the state declared the situation an emergency in January 2016, the city accumulated up to 100 million plastic bottles, according to a new study shared online Tuesday.

That amount of plastic waste should’ve overwhelmed the city of nearly 100,000’s waste management infrastructure. As the study authors note, however, that never happened.

The study, published in Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, examined how city officials were forced to revise their waste management practices on the fly. They didn’t have a plan in place prior to the water crisis, but they had to come up with one—and quickly!—to deal with the onslaught of trash that resulted. The study’s findings can help other cities around the U.S. prepare for water outages of their own.

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