According to the National Resources Council, at least 54 percent of all American’s drink bottled water.
Although the natural resource is a necessity, producing bottled water has a huge impact on the environment.
While the body doesn’t have a limit on the amount of water it consumes, there is a limitation on how it’s produced.
Producing Bottled Water
Polyethylene terephthalate, PET, is the most common plastic used to produce water bottles. In addition to being environmentally unfriendly, for every 1 kilo bottle it takes 17.5 kilos of water to produce the bottle. In fact it requires more water to produce the bottle than the water that’s actually in it! As of 2002, the Container Recycling Institute reported only 10% of the 14 billion water bottles produced were recycled. The other 90% and their harmful byproducts remained in landfills.
Energy Usage for Bottled Water Production
Keeping up with the demands, many bottled water manufactures are draining the natural water resources which are placing a strain on the environment. According to the Pacific Institute, as of 2006 it takes at least 17 million barrels of oil to produce enough bottle water to keep up with the country’s supply. The manufacturing energy consumption does not include the oil needed to transport the water. The Pacific Institute continues to state that the total amount of energy used to create one bottle of water is equivalent to filling one-quarter of that same bottle with oil.
Regulations for Bottled Water
Since bottled water is classified as a food it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who regulate municipal water. Because of its specific testing and handling regulations, some consider the public’s drinking supply to be safer and more economical. The water’s quality is at the discretion of the bottled water manufacturer because the FDA only regulates the allowable amount of contaminates per bottle according to the type of bottled water. For example spring water and distilled water are allowed different amounts of contaminates. The FDA also regulates how the bottled water is transported. However, they do not regulate the energy consumption of transporting it.
In an effort to preserve the environment and conserve the natural water supply, manufactures are seeking new ways to making bottled water eco-friendly. The World Wide Fund for Nature states that consumers can help to reduce the amount of discarded water bottles by using a reusable glass or metal bottle. Reusable bottles will help to lessen the negative impact on the environment.
Another option is to use only plant-based bottles. These bottles, including corn-bottles, are made from natural bio-degradable products. Because of this they are easily broken-down to return to their natural state. Going green also reduces the risk of side effects that are associated with polyethylene terephthalate bottles.
Finally, if you’re aiming to go green on this issue taking small steps like keeping bottles of water in the refrigerator help to prevent water wastage that comes from running the tap until it gets cold. Because the eco-friendly bottles are reusable, there isn’t a need to carry around multiple bottles or search for a bottle vender while on the go.
Image: Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net