Global Phenomenon of Bottled Water
Although the US leads the world in the consumption of bottled water, at 26 billion litres in 2004, the bottled water craze is a global phenomenon. According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, worldwide consumption reached 154 billion litres (41 billion gallons) in 2004, an increase of 57% in five years.
Mexico, with a population slightly more than one-third that of the US, is the second largest consumer of bottled water, at 18 billion litres annually. At 12 billion litres each, China and Brazil are not far behind. Italy and Germany rank fifth and sixth in consumption, at 10 billion plus litres each (see Figure 1).
On a per capita basis, Italians are the biggest consumers of bottled water, at nearly 184 litres in 2004 – the equivalent of more than two glasses a day. Second and third place in per capita consumption are Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, at 169 and 164 litres respectively. Belgium (including Luxembourg in the statistics) and France are close, with consumption just under 145 litres per person annually.
Global consumption of bottled water has been growing over the past five years despite the fact that in a many places, including Europe and the US, there are more regulations governing the quality of tap water than bottled water.
US water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for tap water, for example, are more stringent than the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for bottled water.
Consumers are paying a high price to hydrate Most Americans pay a monthly water bill for municipal tap water at an average cost of US $2.00 per 1000 gallons ($0.5 per 1000 litres), according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Filtering tap water by means of a filter installed under the kitchen sink brings the cost up to about $0.10 cents a gallon, and a tabletop filter increases the cost to $0.25 cents a gallon.
The Container Recycling Institute conducted an informal survey of prices for bottled water in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This revealed that prices for 12-packs of Coca-Cola’s Dasani bottled water ranged from $1.57 to $8.26 per gallon, or as much as 4000 times more than tap water. Dasani is filtered tap water.
A comparison of identically sized 12-packs of bottled water linked with different brands and stores revealed prices ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 per gallon. Bottled water can cost as much as 10,000 times more than tap water, according to the AWWA.
But the price that consumers are paying for the bottled water itself pales in comparison to the price they’re paying for the environmental consequences of manufacturing, transport, and disposal of the bottles. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that making bottles to meet the US demand for bottled water requires more than 15 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.
Transport and disposal of the bottles adds to the resources used, and water extraction – which is concentrated in communities where bottling plants are located – adds to the strains bottled water puts on our ecosystem.
What happens to plastic single-serving water bottles after they’re drained?
Only about one in six plastic water bottles sold in the US in 2004 was recycled, leading to a national recycling rate of about 17%. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) 4637 million pounds (2103 million kg) of PET beverage, food, and non-food bottles were sold in 2004. Of the 803 million pounds (364 million kg) that were converted to clean flake:
• 298 million pounds (135 million kg) were exported, primarily to Asia
• 505 million pounds (229 million kg) were used domestically to make new products such as polyester jackets, carpet, film, strapping and new PET bottles.
Only a small percentage of PET bottles sold are used to make new plastic bottles – approximately 4%. The paucity of closed-loop recycling means that new water bottles must be manufactured almost entirely from virgin petroleum resin, consuming vast amounts of energy and resources. Increasing the quantity of bottles containing recycled content would greatly reduce energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
The Coca-Cola Company has committed to using recycled content in 10% of all their plastic beverage bottles sold in North America. PepsiCo has committed to using 10% recycled content in their plastic soft drink and water bottles sold in the US. Other bottled water producers are silent on the issue. Although both Coca-Cola and Pepsi met their recycled content goals in 2005, plastics recycling experts doubt they will reach them in 2006 due to the lack of supply of collected scrap bottles.
https://www.naraloca.com is a recycled plastic specialist that concerned about the earth and environment by promoting the use of recycled PET flakes, recycled PET chips, recycled PP & HDPE granules to various plastic and polyester manufacturers.
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