These articles are from the Times
Bottle Water Drinkers are the new Smokers. February 16, 2008.
In 2006 we bought three billion liters of bottled water. We spent £2 billion on the stuff. And then we grumble about water metering and annual domestic bills of a couple of hundred quid for water that is just as good, and whose consumption is unlimited. A restaurant critic says that only vain people drink bottled water, ‘While half the world dies of thirst, we have invested years and vast amounts of money in an ingenious system that cleanses water of all nasties and delivers it, dirt-cheap, to our homes and workplaces in pipes, which we can access at a tap.’
Scottish ministers have been spending £200,000 a year on bottled water while insisting that Scottish Water should remain in public ownership. Staff and guests consumed more than 460,000 litres of bottled water last year despite assurances that Scottish tap water is among the best in the world. In total, more than £1.3m was spent on bottled water by Scotland’s public bodies. On average, the carbon footprint of a glass of tap water is only about 0.3g of CO2 compared with some 175g for bottled water, which is also hundreds of times more expensive.
Just 10% of plastic water bottles are recycled and the others are dumped in landfill sites, where they will take an estimated 450 years to break down. “Experts say we have the best water quality in the world so it begs the question why in terms of sustainability, we continue with this policy,” she said. “The government needs to lead the way, it’s public money that’s being spent.”
It is estimated that 2.7m tons of plastic are used worldwide for bottles each year. Transporting bottled water has been estimated to release 33,200 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Turn back to your taps – we all pay the price for bottled water. By Jonathan Richards
To supply the more than two billion litres of bottled water that is consumed by Britons every year, a quarter of which comes from abroad, bottled-water companies produce 33,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions, the electricity consumption of 20,000 households, and the equivalent of the energy needs of 6,000 households.
The principal environmental cost comes from transport, manufacture and disposal of bottles. Most water bottles are made from PET plastic, a crude-oil extract that accounts for about 0.25 per cent of the world’s annual oil consumption. The majority end up in landfill sites, where they take about 450 years to break down, or are incinerated. Of the 10 per cent of bottles that are recycled, more than half are shipped to countries such as China, 13,000km away, to be processed, and produce around half a million kilos of CO2 emissions getting there.
Environmental groups have urged consumers to return to tap water, which they say is 10,000 times cheaper, just as healthy and far less environmentally costly. A report by the Earth Policy Institute this week concluded that of the 154 billion litres of bottled water consumed globally each year, about a quarter had been imported. The water-extraction facilities for Coca-Cola’s Dasani line in India, for example, had caused water shortages in more than 50 villages, it said.
Thousands of bellyaches linked to bottled water By Oliver Wright
BOTTLED water may be responsible for thousands of cases of food poisoning every year, it could be as high as 12% of cases. A study by public health specialists at the University of Wales found that contaminated water could account for more than one in ten infections involving campylobacter, the biggest cause of food-borne sickness in the Western world.
“Drinking bottled water has not previously been recognised as a risk factor. But it is biologically plausible and could explain a substantial number of infections.”
Campylobacter now infects about 50,000 people a year in England and Wales, yet until the mid-1970s only a couple of thousand cases a year were identified. Over the same period the consumption of bottled water has substantially increased. Today Britons drink 1.4 billion litres of bottled water every year. Campylobacter causes stomach pains, diarrhoea and weakness in most people. Mild cases can be treated by avoiding food and drinking lots of fluids. One in a thousand sufferers developed a devastating condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can lead to total paralysis.