PENCINTA ALAM OCTOBER 2008
Green Living Column
A FACTSHEET ON BOTTLED DRINKING WATER
Contributed by Dr. Jessie Cheah, edited by Wong Ee Lynn.
Bottled drinking water has higher economic and environmental costs than most of us would realise. The facts below, which were collated by the Pacific Institute, may be able to persuade you to fill your own water tumblers instead of purchasing bottled drinking water:
1. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans bought a total of 31.2 billion litres of bottled drinking water in 2006. Most of this water was sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, requiring nearly 900,000 tons of plastic. PET is produced from fossil fuels – typically petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
2. According to the plastics manufacturing industry, it takes around 3.4 megajoules of energy to make a typical one-litre plastic bottle, cap, and packaging. Making enough plastic to bottle 31.2 billion litres of water required more than 106 billion megajoules of energy. Because a barrel of oil contains around 6 thousand megajoules, the Pacific Institute estimates that the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil were needed to produce these plastic bottles.
3. The manufacture of every ton of PET produces around 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Bottling water thus created more than 2.5 million tons of CO2 in 2006.
4. In addition to the water sold in plastic bottles, the Pacific Institute estimates that twice as much water is used in the production process. Thus, every litre sold represents three litres of water.
5. More energy is needed to fill the bottles with water at the factory, move it by truck, train, ship, or air freight to the user, cool it in grocery stores or home refrigerators, and recover, recycle, or throw away the empty bottles. The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in our use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil.