Bottled Water

July 10, 2009

Bottled water or Tap (faucet) Water – the choice is yours.

Bottled water is predominantly available in plastic bottles, usually PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) while the water cooler companies tend to use high density polyethelene containers. This tends to be the biggest public criticism of bottled water – that it creates so much waste plastic and that chemical contaminant leaching from the plastics can do us harm in the form of cancer and other undesirable complaints.

However, recent studies have shown that the level of recycling of used, plastic water bottles has risen by over 20% since 2006 in the United States to a rate of over 23%. When you consider that globally, our consumption of bottled water is forecast to rise by over 50% from 2006 until the end of the decade, where we will be drinking nearly 175,000 million liters, you can see that that is a huge amount of recycled plastic.

Bottling companies led by the big beverage brands are also doing their bit for the environment by reducing the amount of plastic they put into each bottle, creating a more eco-friendly product. With an estimated 200 million bottles of water consumed throughout the world every year 50 billion of those within the United States), whatever we can do to conserve energy and reduce waste is going to help the environment substantially.

OK, so what processes are used to produce our bottled water and what effect does the water really have on our health?

Apart from natural mineral and spring waters which are bottled at source, the vast majority of our bottled water is processed and created using reverse osmosis and distillation processes. (A lot of the big brand water products are taken from our own municipal supplies). These create an extremely pure water, probably the purest with the least risk of contaminants, but most of the natural minerals which our bodies need are also filtered out. Fluoride is also filtered out which some blame for an increase in tooth decay.

Much research has been done and many test reports have been commissioned and written on the subject of the bottled water market, the standards and the quality of our bottled water with the general concensus of opinion being that they are generally free of bacteria and that levels of harmful chemicals are well below the standards set making them safe for consumer consumption.

Bottled mineral waters, while containing the minerals and dissolved solids which help our bodies, can also contain high levels of calcium which if consumed excessively could increase the risk of conditions such as gallstones and kidney stones.

So, tap (faucet) water or bottled water drinks?

Much of the argument comes down to the environmental effects of producing the plastic bottles and the other associates packaging. Globally, we drink more bottled water than tap but we also pay a huge amount more for it. Arguments for and against one or the other will rage for eternity. Mostly it is down to personal preference, price and taste. Tap water in certain areas can be of just as good a standard as the purest distilled or filtered water.

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Positive News for Recycling Plastic Bottles

The PET plastic bottled water containers are now the most recycled item in nationwide curbside programs – recycled at a record rate of 23.4% – a 16.4% increase on 2006’s recycling rate of 20.1%. The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) completed a major bale study last year in 15 locations in 14 states. […]