Smarter Living: Water & Air

After more than a decade of blockbuster growth, U.S. bottled water sales have slowed in recent years. Why? The recession is partly to blame, but also environmentally-minded consumers, urged on by their Mayors (in San Francisco, CA, Minneapolis, MN, and NYC, NY as well as elsewhere) and environmental leaders, are rejecting bottled water as wasteful. Way to go, consumers!

Now stand by your tap. Bottled-water makers have stepped up a months-long price war to try to win you back. PepsiCo Inc.'s Aquafina brand sold at some grocery stores for as little as $2.99 for a 24-pack of half-liter bottles, reports the Wall Street Journal. In addition to lower pricing, bottled water companies have also been reducing the amount of plastic in their bottles in response to public criticism that bottled water is wasteful. As reported in the Environmental Leader, Pepsi's "Eco-Fina" half-liter bottle is made with 50 percent less plastic, and Coca-Cola introduced the PlantBottle, a fully recyclable plastic bottle made partially from plant material, which is being piloted with the Dasani water brand. Other examples include a new brand of Canadian spring water that's distributed in a paper-based and recyclable carton, and Naya adopted a mixture of 50 percent recycled plastic for its water bottle.

Analysts are not so sure, however, whether these new strategies--the more eco-friendly packaging, lowering prices--can overcome all the bad press related to the environmental impact of plastic bottles. As an example, a UK study, conducted by environmental consultants, Best Foot Forward, and reported in the Guardian, found that each year 10,000 bottles of sparkling and 11,400 bottles of still water are used in Parliament, while the associated delivery trucks tallied more than 70,000 miles over five years.

And these stats don't even begin to consider the energy and water used in bottle water production. U.S. studies show that total energy required for bottled water production is as much as 2,000 times the energy needed in producing tap water. As for the water used by bottling industry: It takes three liters of water to produce one liter of water in the standard PET plastic, according to the Pacific Institute.

So consumers, chalk one up for lots of individuals taking one simple step in their everyday lives that's making a whole lot of difference for the planet.

Learn More

The Burden of Buying Bottled

Do You Need a Home Water Filter?

Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype

Tapping into the Truth About Bottled Water

last revised 8/22/2011

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