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Beverage Companies Are Going Green to Sell More Water

February 3, 2014 16:16 by Bran

We all know that plastic bottles are hazardous to ecosystems because they cannot be biodegraded. That's why bottled water sales have flat lined in recent years.

According to Forbes, "sales in this category saw a negative growth of 0.4% during this period. Big corporate companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle Waters have tried to reverse this trend by introducing eco-friendly packaging and by promoting consumers to drink more water."

However, did you know that the U.S. only ranks 11t in global per capita intake of bottled water? Consumers have become more conscious of the environmental impact of drinking bottled water. Still, in 2010, "more than one-third of the survey respondents said that they would spend more for environmentally friendly products," Mintel reports.

That's why today, companies like Coca-Cola (which produces Dasani) are introducing eco-friendlier bottles. Bottles made with a percentage of plant resin are now on the market, and Coca-Cola plans to introduce a 100% plant resin bottle in the near future.

Does water bottle packaging affect your purchasing decisions?

Aussie Pop-Up Shop Sells Fresh Air, Rays of Sunshine

October 30, 2013 10:08 by Bran

Would you pay money for jarred fresh air, boxed rays of sunshine or bottled moonlight? Probably not, because that's just plain ridiculous.

One Australian water utility company has launched an awareness campaign to show consumers that purchasing bottled water is just as absurd.

According to the Huffington Post, Melbourne, Australia's Yarra Valley Water built Dupé -- a fake shop that sells everything from "positive thoughts" to "good vibrations" -- to get its point across.

How come? The utility service estimates that buying bottles of water costs 1,400 times more than using tap water. Furthermore, Aussies don't recycle half of the plastic bottles they use, making for a lot of plastic litter. Yarra Valley Water's campaign encourages residents to refill reusable water bottles instead of purchasing a new plastic bottle every day. For more information, you can watch the video here.


The idea is similar to that of Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese entrepreneur who began selling canned fresh air in China's smoggiest areas.

What do you think? Is the message clear?

Could Tap Water Really Be Healthier?

January 3, 2013 13:12 by Bran

For years, most of us have believed that bottled water is better for you. But is that really the case? And is it possible that drinking tap water is actually safer?

Mail Online reports that, although consumers will pay up to 1,000 times more for branded water, it's "subject to far less stringent safety tests" and is more often contaminated.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explains: "About 22 percent of the brands we tested contained, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. If consumed over a long period of time, some of these contaminants could cause cancer or other health problems."

Furthermore, bottled water can more easily spread infection. Here's why: Water that comes from the tap is checked and inspected daily for quality, and the added chlorine can help combat bacteria.

Bottled Water

On the other hand, "makers of bottled water are only required to undertake monthly testing at source. Once filled and sealed, a bottle of water might remain in storage for months before it is sold. Bottled water contains no disinfecting additives such as chlorine," reports Mail Online.

So if you're sick of spending money on pre-packaged water, next time just refill your custom water bottle at the sink.

Six indictments against bottled water

July 13, 2009 11:49 by human

For years, advocacy groups have been raising concerns about bottled water: Not only do bottles end up littering the landscape, and not only are those plastic bottles derived from fossil fuels, but they also may leach chemicals into water and the quality of the water is not stringently monitored.

But many Americans have a healthy distrust of advocacy groups. If you're one of them, then consider this. The Government Accountability Office, the well-respected and nonpartisan research organization that serves Congress, has concluded a yearlong investigation, and come up with basically the same conclusions.

Here's a summary:

Water quality

Surveys have shown that perceived health benefits are behind the staggering increase in the consumption of bottled water -- from 13.4 gallons per person in 1997 to 29.3 gallons per person in 2007.

While on paper, the Food and Drug Administration limits on contaminants in bottled water mirror the Environmental Protection Agency's strict limits on contaminants in tap water supplied by community water systems, that doesn't mean bottled water is as closely watched or as safe as tap water. Here's why:

  • Phthalates
    Unlike the EPA, which has set limits on phthalates in water, the FDA has stalled for more than 15 years in publishing a limit on the phthalate DEHP in bottled water. DEHP is an ingredient in plastic, and (the GAO report does not detail the chemical's potential health effects as we do here) laboratory studies have linked some phthalates to problems with male fertility -- including decreased sperm counts and penis and testes sizes -- with obesity, and with other health problems related to hormonal imbalances. Several phthalates have been banned in children's products for this same reason: They inhibit the normal function of testosterone, the male hormone.

  • Testing
    While the EPA requires drinking water suppliers to use certified labs to test their water, the FDA does not have this authority. Further, test results don't have to be reported to the FDA -- even if the test results show violations of drinking water quality standards. Even those states that have rules that exceed FDA requirements typically don't match EPA requirements.

  • Labeling
    While the EPA requires public drinking water systems to annually publish the results of water quality testing, along with information about the drinking water source and known threats, the FDA does not require this of bottled water companies. The GAO reports: "In 2000, the FDA concluded that it was feasible for the bottled water industry to provide the same types of information to consumers that public water systems must provide. However, the agency was not required to conduct a rule-making requiring that manufacturers provide such information to consumers, and has yet to do so."

  • "High risk" regulation
    The GAO has repeatedly warned that the FDA is not up to the task -- lacking staff, funding, and regulatory authority (while seeing staffing drop 19%, the facilities it was charged with inspecting increased 28% between about 2001 and 2007) -- to adequately police the nation's food supply. In January 2007, the GAO noted that the nation's food safety is a "high risk" area, in great part because it is policed by 15 separate agencies. Drinking water is only one more example.

Environmental impact

  • Waste
    While recycling of carbonated beverages, like soda and beer, is encouraged in many states with deposit laws, these bottle bills are much less common for bottled water. As a result, about 75% of plastic water bottles are thrown in the trash, rather than recycled.

  • Energy
    "Regarding the impact on U.S. energy demands, a recent peer-reviewed article noted that while the production and consumption of bottled water comprises a small share of total U.S. energy demand, it is much more energy-intensive than the production of public drinking water."

There are reasons to keep bottled water around: It's handy in case of an emergency, for instance. In most everyday cases, however, it's better for you and the environment to use a reusable water bottle and tap water (filtered if you think it improves the taste).

Many of the issues with bottled water that the GAO identified can be solved with changes in regulation: Water quality could be assured if it matches EPA standards; labeling could provide full disclosure of source and testing contaminants detected; the nation's food safety regulatory structure could be totally overhauled; and recycling rates could be improved with new bottled deposit laws.

However, bottled water will remain an item that lacks commonsense as long as U.S. tap water remains among the safest and most rigorously tested in the world.

The Daily Green previously summarized the problems with the bottled water industry like this:

The seven sins of bottled water

  1. Plastic bottles are made from petroleum.

  2. The bottles often go into the trash, rather than the recycle bin (in part because many states don't offer five-cent deposits to encourage recycling, as they do on soda and beer cans and bottles).

  3. The water is pumped far from where it is sold, creating needless pollution as trucks and barges transport it across the country or around the world.

  4. Some local communities have objected to the sale of their water, arguing that the water underground or flowing from natural springs is publicly owned and should not be exploited for profit.

  5. Bottled water is rarely as closely monitored as tap water.

  6. Tap water in the United States, when provided by a municipal system, is the most highly monitored and safe supply in the world.

  7. Some of the water sold in little plastic bottles is tap water, but it costs an awful lot more per gallon.


Tap Water or Bottled Water: Which is Better?

July 1, 2009 15:40 by human

As a dedicated Treehugger you knew it, but…in case you needed more proof:

"A direct comparison of drinking water from the tap with unrefrigerated bottled water shows an environmental impact of tap water which is less than one percent of that of bottled water. Even when refrigerated and carbonated, the environmental impact of tap water is approximately only one fourth of that of bottled water. Thus, from an environmental point of view, tap water is preferable to bottled water as a beverage."

People have an obsession with bottled water. Somehow, somewhere, somebody decided that tap water was no longer acceptable and along came the paranoia, the bottled water and the oceans full of trash and empty plastic bottles.

Some of us choose to continue to drink tap water while others use filtered jugs and tap filters, either way by choosing not to drink bottled water you are making a huge difference to the Earth. This life cycle analysis shows that tap water has less than one percent of the impacts of bottled water! That’s astonishing and all the more reason to let go of the bottled water and go back to the tap.

I know, I know that not all tap water tastes the same. Here in Barcelona the taste of pure tap water is not very yummy, so we use a water filter at home which takes most of the bad taste out. And really, we have gotten used to it.

What is even more frustrating is that in restaurants (unlike in the United States) there is no option for tap water in restaurants. You don't get a free glass of water here. Your only option is bottled water. This just promotes the bottled water phenomenon. What did we do before bottled water? Has the taste gotten worse or do we just notice more? Tell us if you think your tap water tastes worse than it did when you were growing up or if you think it's psychological?

The summary of the life cycle analysis of tap water versus bottled water that was commissioned by the Swiss Gas and Water Association is available online. The study considers the life cycle impacts of different variants including carbonated vs. non-carbonated and refrigerated vs. unrefrigerated.

More on Bottled Water and its Impacts:
Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water.
::A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water.
Bottled Water Drinkers are the New Smokers.
The Ethics of Bottled Water.
Bottled Water: What a Waste.