Jan 24, 2008

Bottled water industry's biggest problems...

Plastic Water Bottle Facts
        Crude Oil ... 3 fl oz.
    Water Required ... 3x bottle size
    Total Bottles
    Total plastic for bottles ... 900,000 tons
    Total CO2 produced ... 2.5 million tons
    Total oil used to produce ... 17 million barrels
    Total bottles not recycled ... 80%
    Percent of water from tap ... 40%
    Time to decompose ... Up to 1,000 years
The most glaring and egregious points of contention these fun facts bring up for me are as follows:
  1. So few plastic water bottles  are actually recycled - The EPA reported that 2006 overall national recycling rates were a misserable32 percent.
  2.  "landfilling" plastics make up at least 11 percent (by weight) of municipal solid waste landfills (PDF).
  3. A titanic 40 percent of that "pure spring water" Americans are chugging (and dropping a cool $15 billion/year on) is actually from the kitchen faucet.
  4. The other 60 percent of bottled water is pulled from uncharted, or at least untested, waters. According to a four-year study of bottled water by the NRDC, the FDA exempts "60-70 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States from the agency's bottled water standards, because FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold within the same state." Even when not exempt, the rules are usually weaker than EPA drinking water standards for tap water.
  5. Production of plastic water bottles requires three times the water the bottle will eventually hold. That's not even getting into the 17 million barrels of oil or the 2.5 million tons of CO2 resulting from plastic bottle production.
  6. And finally, the bottled water industry is literally draining the Great Lakes, which hold 95 percent of the U.S.'s surface freshwater. Even a Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, signed by eight Great Lakes states' governors and two Canadian provinces' premiers, allows for the unlimited removal of Great Lakes Basin water "in any container of 5.7 gallons or less" (Applicable Use #9, Article 207).
To summarize, bottled water for people outside of national disaster areas or developing countries = bad.
Reusable nonpolycarbonate water bottles = good.
As for me, I'll be slurping my coffee and water from the same five year old cup I got on a Disney trip from my Kids ;-)