The Real Cost Of Bottled Water
May 23, 2001
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In light of a new independent study, the
World Wildlife Fund (WWF),
a conservation organization, is
urging people to drink tap water, which is often
as good as bottled water, for the benefit of the environment
and their wallets.
According to the study, Bottled
Water: Understanding a social phenomenon, commissioned
by WWF, bottled water
may be no safer, or healthier than tap water in many countries
while selling for up to
1000 times the price. Yet, it is the fastest growing
drinks industry in the world and is estimated to be worth
US $22 billion annually.
The study reveals that the bottled water
market is partly fueled by concerns over the safety of municipal
water and by the marketing of many brands that portray them
as being drawn from pristine sources and as being healthier
than tap water. However, some bottled waters only differ from
tap water in the fact that they are distributed in bottles
rather than through pipes.
In fact there
are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the
US than those applied to the bottled water industry.
"Our attitudes towards tap water
are being shaped by the pollution which is choking the rivers
and streams which should be veins of life," argues Richard
Holland, Director of WWF's
Living Waters Campaign. "We must clean up and properly
protect these waters at source, and not just at the treatment
works, so that we can all rest easy in drinking from the tap."
The study also finds that every
year 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water.
Toxic chemicals can be released into the
environment during the manufacture and disposal of the bottles.
Furthermore, a quarter of the 89 billion liters of water bottled
worldwide annually are consumed outside their country of origin.
Emissions of the green house gas carbon dioxide, caused by
transporting bottled water within and between countries, contribute
to the global problem of climate change.
"Bottled water isn't a long term
sustainable solution to securing access to healthy water,"
said Richard Holland. "Clean water is a basic right.
Protecting our rivers, streams and wetlands will help ensure
that tap water remains a service which delivers good quality
drinking water for everyone at a fair price."
HERE for the full report (PDF file).
Wildlife Fund - Living Waters Campaign