Why not bottled water?
The estimated market value of South Africa’s bottled mineral-water market is over R1.7 billion and expected to increase at a staggering rate during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In 2005 consumption was estimated at 196 million liters of bottled water a year and that figure is expected to rocket to 568 million liters of bottled water sold by the World Cup in 2010.(1) All this money spent on something that is available for free from a tap while there are 1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world’s population, who lack access to safe drinking water.
In 2003 the South African bottled mineral-water market grew by an estimated 20%. This volume includes consumption from all sectors, such as retail, wholesale & imports. With an expected year on year increase of 25% per annum for the foreseeable future. (2) Can you imagine what the environmental impact of this is?
Bottled water uses energy and resources to create packaging for something that runs cheaply and cleanly from the tap in your own home. All the plastic and the energy used for manufacturing and transportation is very hard on the environment. The manufacture of every ton of PET produces around 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Not only is it expensive and energy demanding to make bottles, but then to ship the bottled water costs more money and isn’t eco-friendly.
The convenience of bottled water is vastly outweighed by the fact that it takes three times as much water to make a bottle of water than it does to fill it. That’s right – it takes it takes 3-5 liters of water to make just one 1-liter bottle!
96% of bottled water is sold in single-size polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, which end up in city rubbish bins rather than recycling bins. The South African national recycling rate target for all PET bottles for 2010, including soda bottles, is 38 percent. (3)
Worldwide, 2.7 million tons of plastic are used each year to make water bottles, and in the United States, less than 20% of these bottles are recycled.
In America alone, 2.5 million disposable water bottles are thrown out EVERY HOUR… enough to circle the equator every 2.9 days! And 1500 bottles of water end up in landfill every second!
Disposable water bottles take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, according to the Container Recycling Institute.
Bottled Water is packaged in plastic which is known to leach Bisphenol A (BPA). This has a wide range of negative health implications as well as being bad for the environment. Please read our page on BPA here for more detailed information.
It’s expensive! Bottled water costs as much as R2,38 per litre, compared to R0.16 per litre for filtered tap water.
Bottled water costs around as much as a bottle of soda or juice, which obviously requires additional ingredients and processing, yet people pay for it.
Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil in 2006, enough fuel for more than 1 million United States cars for a year, and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Bottled water often contains more bacteria and impurities than tap water, municipal water systems are regulated more stringently than the bottled water industry.
Water is becoming big business, opening up the question – is water a right or commodity? What would you do if a big bottled water company decided to tap into your nearby river, wetland or lake? It’s happening and communities are fighting for their water.