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No Waste Wednesday: Be Part of the Plastics Pollution Solution

Five Reasons to Skip Bottled Water: No Waste Wednesday: Be Part of the Plastics Pollution Solution

September 22, 2013

According to the International Bottled Water Association, consumption of bottled water in the US continues to rise – from 9.1 billion gallons in 2011 to 9.67 billion in 2012. Americans drink more than 73 billion half-liter bottles of water a year. That’s enough to circle the globe more than 370 times! Where do all these bottles end up?

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 29 percent of PET bottles and jars were recycled in 2011. This means that 71 percent contributed to the glut of plastic trash that clogs landfills and pollutes waterways. Oceana, an international organization focused on ocean conservation, has calculated that as much as 1.6 billion pounds of plastic ends up in the seas every year, posing a threat to marine life. The Plastic Pollution Coalition has been raising awareness about the disgusting Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but the problem continues to grow – thanks in part to the continuing popularity of bottled water.

And plastic pollution isn’t the only waste that bottled water generates; it also wastes energy, water and taxpayers’ dollars! The Pacific Institute calculates that producing the water-filled bottles that Americans buy required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy to transport them. The Institute also estimates that it takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.

According to EWG partner Corporate Accountability International, state governments spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on bottled water for public employees (can you say budget crisis?). Here’s an idea: Use the money for public water systems instead. Many are in desperate need of costly upgrades that states can’t afford. It would make good sense to cut spending on bottled water and used it for underfunded infrastructure improvements instead.

EWG recommends that consumers avoid adding to the problem: Filter your tap water and invest in a reusable water bottle.

Read more:

EWG’s 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard

EWG: Should State Employees Be Drinking Bottled Water? On Your Dime?

Oceana Plastics Campaign

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Pacific Institute: Bottled and Energy Fact Sheet

Corporate Accountability International: Think Outside the Bottle