The real cost of bottled water

The real cost of bottled water
Jason Koutsoukis
August 19, 2007
AUSTRALIA’S love affair with bottled water is costing the planet 314,000 barrels of oil a year, used to ship, refrigerate, manufacture and package. A product already piped for next to nothing., with bottled water 2500 times more expensive than the tap variety.
Drinking water in Melbourne costs around $1.20 a tonne, Australian bottled water costs around $3000 a tonne. Italian bottled water is around $9000 a tonne. It’s more expensive than petrol.
According to the Australasian Bottled Water Institute, we spend about $385 million a year on bottled water.
Peter Gleick, president of the California-based Pacific Institute, recently calculated that demand for bottled water in the United States was burning up at least 17 million barrels of oil a year that’s just the energy required to make the plastic resin and make it into bottles. He estimates that the total amount of energy required for every bottle of water is equivalent, on average, to filling a quarter of a plastic bottle with crude oil.
Consumers are not aware of the economic, political and environmental impact of what it takes to produce a bottle of water. Especially when pure, clean drinking water is available, literally on tap.
With only 35 per cent of water bottles being recycled, and 55 per cent going to landfill means bottles are creating thousands of tonnes of rubbish a year, this can easily be eliminated when next time your thirsty just turn on the tap.
Sally Loane, spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Amatil, Australia’s largest producer of bottled water, said, “There is a market for it. Consumers like the convenience of bottled water. It’s nice and cold. That’s what consumers want, and that’s what we’re giving them.”
• Australians spent $385 million on 250 million litres of bottled water in 2006.
• It takes 3.4 megajoules of energy to make a typical one-litre plastic bottle – or 850 million megajoules to bottle 250 million litres of water.
• A barrel of oil has 6000 megajoules, so it takes 141,666 barrels of oil to make the PET plastic.
• The energy required to bring bottled water to market – converting the PET plastic into bottles, bottling the water, transporting and refrigerating the bottled water – means the amount of oil required equals 20 per cent of the bottle’s volume.
• For 250 million litres of water, that equals 50 million litres of oil – 314,465 barrels of oil.
• In addition to the water in bottles, twice as much water is used in the production process. Every litre sold represents three litres of water.


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