The Single-Use Plastic Water Bottle
Water for sale! Why are we paying for water that we can get free from the tap? Sounds crazy?
The single use water bottle – of all our other modern day consumerism, it epitomizes our un-ecological consumption. It ‘assaults’ not only our environment but also our intelligence and our wallet.
Britain consumes 3bn litres of bottled water per year. According to the British Bottled water Producers, the UK bottled water industry is worth ~£2bn per year and UK bottled water production stood at more than 2.7 billion litres in 2016.
These single-use thin plastic bottles are used by almost all drink manufacturers, but only about half get recycled.
Some startling facts about bottled water!
Cleaner and healthier?
Those who choose bottled water over tap water do so because they think it is more hygienic. Research has found that bottled water is subject to far less stringent safety tests than tap water and is much more likely to be contaminated or become a source of infection.
Tap water is checked daily under a rigorous inspection regime and water coming from UK taps is the most stringently tested in the world, according to Prof Paul Younger of Glasgow University and author of Water: All That matters. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), in its audit of household supplies last year found that on the average, samples taken from 1.9 million tests across England and Wales achieved the 99.96 compliance level with legal standards. Tap water also contains trace amounts of chlorine that help to prevent the spread of any harmful bacteria.
In contrast, unlike tap companies, bottled water companies don’t have to submit their findings to the general public. Bottled manufacturers are only required to undertake less frequent testing at source and once the water is filled and sealed, it remains in storage for months before being sold, containing no disinfecting additives such as chlorine. Once opened, it can be exposed to infection.
Marketers of bottled water have done a good job of convincing the consumer that bottled water is cleaner, tastier and healthier than tap water and we are willing to pay 1000-5000 times more for the privilege of drinking bottled water instead of tap water. Tap water cost about 2p per litre!
Cost to the Environment?
When you pick up a water bottle, picture one quarter of it filled with oil! That’s how much fossil fuel is needed to produce one plastic water bottle.
According to a report from the Environment Technology Centre of University of Nottingham, 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). In fact drinking ‘a bottle’ of water can equate to driving ‘a car’ for one kilometre.
The UK alone currently uses 10 million barrels of oil each year just to produce water bottles. And if you include the energy used to process, transport and refrigerate bottled water, it actually amounts to over 10 million avoidable barrels of oil every year. That’s over 600 Olympic size swimming pools of oil, year after year and enough to fill 26 million cars with fuel and drive them 13 trillion miles!
It takes 3 times the amount of water to actually make the bottle as it does to fill it. By 2025, it’s predicted that 2 in 3 people across the globe will lack access to water.
Water bottles are made of completely recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics. Reusing these single-use water bottles pose a health problem as the PET can leach into the bottle contents. The only option is single-use (hence the name) and discard.
PET can be recycled, but the recycling rate is low. In the UK the recycling rate is less than one third, the rest land in the landfill where they can take up to 450 years to bio-degrade! In fact, PETs do not biodegrade. They photodegrade, that is they break down into smaller fragments over time. These fragments then absorb toxins and organic pollutants like BPA and PCBs; polluting our waterways, contaminate our soils and adversely affecting animals and marine life. And if they are incinerated, they release toxic fumes into the air.
Sound overwhelming?? We can take matters into our own hands!
- Stay away single-use disposable water bottles!! Instead opt for stainless steel bottles.
- At home use a filter pitcher or install a faucet-filter and use glass.
- When entertaining use the water jug and if you do not want the hassle of washing up, use reusable and eco-friendly cups (such as 100% biodegradable vibrant cups from Element).
Save the planet and protect your wallet too. Replace bottled water with filtered water straight from your kitchen tap that will cost you only 2p per litre and at the same time reduce your carbon footprint and help to protect the planet.