Regarding bottled water’s environmental footprint, we have a strong and positve story to tell.
All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable and, according to data released in January 2013 by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), at 38.6 percent recycling rates for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers have more than doubled in the last seven years. When you do the math, it turns out that of all the plastics produced in the U.S., PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.92 percent -- less than one percent. Moreover, plastic bottled water containers make up only one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream, according to the EPA.
Life Cycle Inventory Study
IBWA commissioned a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) study to determine the environmental footprint of the United States bottled water industry.
The results indicate that bottled water has a very small environmental footprint. Key findings of this study show that water is the least environmentally impactful beverage option and that bottled water is the most environmentally responsible packaged drink choice.
The LCI study also found that:
- Tap water has lightest footprint, followed by tap water consumed in reusable bottles (if used more than 10 times), and then by bottled water
- Sports drinks, enhanced waters and soda produce nearly 50% more carbon dioxide emissions per serving than bottled water
- Juice, beer and milk produce nearly three times as many carbon dioxide emissions per serving than bottled water
- Milk, coffee, beer, wine and juice together comprise 28% of a consumer’s total beverage consumption but represent 58% of climate change impact
You can download the bottled water LCI study's executive summary here.
Water Usage Ratio
When it comes to water usage ratios, the amount of water invovled in a product's production, bottled water wins again, being the lowest of all packaged drinks.
Learn more about how bottled water's minimal water footprint stacks up to other beverages in the 2009 Economist article “Thirsty Work” here.