Environmental Technology Centre

Should we be using bottled water?

Some good reasons for drinking water from a water fountain and a refillable sports bottle instead of buying bottled water! ....

  1. Britain consumes 3bn litres of bottled water per year
  2. Typically bottled water retails at up to 500 times more than the price of tap water
  3. The bottled water market is the fastest growing drinks market in the world
  4. Tap water in developed nations is transported from treatment works in underground pipes and requires much less embodied energy than the production, distribution and ‘disposal’ of bottled water
  5. The UK bottled water industry is worth ~£2bn per year
  6. The majority of bottled water is sold in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles. All PET bottles can be recycled.
  7. For 2007 it is estimated that 13bn plastic bottles of water were sold in the UK of which only 3bn were recycled
  8. Most plastic bottles for bottled water are produced using a virgin petroleum feedstock
  9. 162g of oil and seven litres of water are required to manufacture a single one litre volume disposable PET bottle and this amounts to the release of 100g of carbon dioxide (CO2) a major greenhouse gas (GHG)
  10. Some research has claimed that drinking ‘a bottle’ of water has the same impact on the environment as driving ‘a car’ for one kilometre
  11. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) campaigns strongly that bottled water is not only environmentally unfriendly but also a waste of consumers money
  12. 50% of bottled water contains added minerals and salts. This does not mean that it is more ‘healthy’
  13. The UK bottled water industry has made some changes recently. PET plastic bottles have been redesigned so that they are 30% lighter than 15 years ago and increasing amounts of recycled plastic are used to manufacture the bottles themselves, but there is litter problem with many discarded PET bottles and other ‘waste’ plastics.
  14. Recycling rates though improving are still low in the UK as a whole. Today nearly 35% of PET plastic bottles in household waste streams are now collected for recycling. In 2001 it was 3%. Hence the majority of used water bottles are disposed of to landfill, which is not sustainable. Fewer are incinerated with some energy being recovered. Many ’discarded’ bottles become environmental pollution and can be found in hedgerows, parks, streams and rivers. Via rivers they can be transported to the open seas.
  15. The Eastern Garbage Patch is an area 6 times the size of England, where plastic outweighs plankton by 6:1. It is the world's largest waste dump. The Plastiki project is helping to change attitudes towards the world's oceans, the whole idea of ‘waste' and the increasingly unacceptable reality of pollution.

A community of tap water drinkers can be found at Join The Pipe.

Information from reputable sources including the British Plastics Federation and PET Plastic bottles – facts not myths,