November 8, 2019

From Trash to Plush

Service System Associates (SSA), retail and food partner of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, is proud to announce new plush animals in the Zoo’s gift shops created entirely from recycled plastic water bottles.

Seven water bottles are used to create one small plush animal and 16 water bottles are used to create one large plush toy.

Stacey Wade, SSA Retail Manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo, calls it a big win.

“With millions of plastic water bottles thrown away every year around the world, we need to find ways to encourage people to recycle water bottles and then show them the different uses plastic can have. People see what can be done and want to play a role.”

More than 2.5 million bottles are thrown in the trash each year. According to American Rivers, only one in six water bottles in the United States is recycled. The average consumer uses 166 plastic water bottles each year, with most ending up in landfills.

Plastic bottles do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade, which means that the plastic breaks down into small parts from the warmth of the sun and releases chemicals into the environment. The water bottle breakdown causes soil pollution as contaminated water runoff from the landfills ends up in our waterways and eventually the ocean. This cycle continues for up to 1,000 years for each bottle.

But for every ton of plastic bottles recycled and repurposed, more than 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space is freed up.

“The Pittsburgh Zoo and SSA are working to help save the environment one water bottle at a time,” says Wade.

Next time you’re at the Zoo, stop by a gift shop to get your eco-friendly plush toy and play a part in saving the environment!

About Service Systems Associates (SSA):
SSA is a family owned and operated company focusing on retail and culinary services for cultural attractions across the United States. As an industry leader delivering innovative culinary and retail services with exceptional results, SSA partners with over 60 cultural attractions and serves more than 34 million visitors annually. Founded almost 50 years ago, SSA is based in Denver, Colorado.

For more information, please visit or view the full press release here.