Bottled water

Bottled water

Bottled water is drinking water packaged in bottles for individual consumption and retail sale. The water can be glacial water, spring water, well water, purified water or simply water from the public water supply (tap water). [ [ Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water] by Janet Majeski Jemmott, Reader's Digest, February 2008, page 118] Many countries, particularly developed countries, regulate the quality of bottled water through government standards, typically used to ensure that water quality is safe and labels accurately reflect bottle contents. In many developing countries, however, such standards are variable and are often less stringent than those of developed nations.Fact|date=April 2007

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their supporters to consume less bottled water, and various campaigns against bottled water are starting to appear. Many of these campaigns claim that bottled water is no better than tap water. Organizations such as Corporate Accountability International say that millions of plastic bottles end up in landfills.

Supporters of bottled water view the product not just as an alternative for municipal water, but as a healthy choice instead of soft drinks or sport drinks that can be purchased in restaurants, convenience stores or vending machines. The bottled water industry points out that PET bottles make up only one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.]

The production of bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle. [] According to, about 90% of this cost is from making the bottle, label, and cap. []


In developed countries, demand is driven by a variety of factors including but not limited to convenience, the perception that bottled water may be safer than local municipal water, a new clean bottle, and taste preferences.

Packaging and advertising work to foster these perceptions and brand bottled water in ways similar to branded soft drinks. Though many municipalities, particularly in the developed world, provide high-quality, highly regulated, potable water, occasional problems with contamination from commercial fertilizer, MTBE, or other contaminants are often widely publicized. Violations of tap water standards are, in the United States, openly reported, especially examples like the severe 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which led to several deaths and 400,001 illnesses (see: Milwaukee Cryptosporidium outbreak). The University of Cincinnati recently completed a [ "Tap Water Quality Analysis"] for major US cities. While most cities have what is considered "safe" tap water, contaminants ranging from bacteria to heavy metals were present in the tap water. The actual or perceived threat from studies like this continue to drive up bottled water sales annually.

The global soft drink and bottled water manufacturing industry is expected to produce revenue of $146.5 billion in 2008, with growth projected to continue at a rate of 4 percent, with the U.S. at its forefront, producing an estimated revenue of $168.6 billion by 2012. Purified water is currently the leading global seller, with U.S. companies dominating the field. The U.S. is the largest consumer market for bottled water in the world, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil [ [ IBISWorld ] ] .

The global rate of consumption rose by 10 percent in 2007Fact|date=August 2008. And at the forefront of the industry, selling purified water aimed at the low-cost, bulk purchase market, are U.S. bottlers Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and The Pepsi Bottling Group. Both companies are dominating the arena through aggressive marketing programs that have turned both the Aquafina and the Dasani brands into mainstream successes.

Critics point towards the marketing of bottled water as unrealistic. Expensive brands of water, marketed to younger women as fashion accessories or the key to a healthier lifestyle, are becoming more common in the market. As sales of fizzy drinks flatten, companies like Coca-Cola and Frucor, which are large players in the industry, are using bottled water as an alternative. Marketing, in particular to women who drink more bottled water than men, is driving demand for the product.

In 2006, U.S. bottled water sales surpassed 8 billion gallons (30 billion litres), exceeding sales of all other beverages except carbonated soft drinks. [Beverage Marketing Corporation, 2007]

Impact of bottled water

The global bottled water market grew by 7% in 2006 to reach a value of $60,938.1 million (60.9 billion). The market grew by 8.1% in 2006 to reach a volume of 115,393.5 million liters. In 2011, the market is forecast to have a value of $86,421.2 million (86.4 billion), an increase of 41.8% since 2006. In 2011, the market is forecast to have a volume of 174,286.6 million liters, an increase of 51% since 2006. [ [ Bottled Water - Global Industry Guide] ]

Environmental impact

In 2004, the total global consumption of bottled water was 154 billion litres (41 billion gallons), a 57 percent increase from the 98 billion litres consumed in 1999. [ [ BOTTLED WATER:Pouring Resources Down the Drain] . February 2, 2006. Accessed September 24, 2007.] Americans buy about 28 billion water bottles a year, and 80 percent of bottles end up in landfills. However, these figures are not limited solely to bottled water and are on par with the recycling levels of many other packaged food or beverage products.

The anti-bottled water arguments made are that, unlike tap water, bottled water uses up oil and other fossil fuels to be produced and shipped, fills up landfills, represents wasted money, and does not go through nearly as rigorous filtering and cleansing processes. However, supporters of bottled water are quick to counter that bottled water is not simply tap water in a bottle and the oil used is minimal in comparison to that of general transportation or other packaged foods and beverages. In addition, bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which requires bottled water to comply with bottled water-specific standards, as well as regulations required of all food products.

In addition to bottled water's rigorous FDA regulations, many times, bottled water is subject to further state standards and other requirements set by trade associations such as the American Beverage Association or International Bottled Water Association. As part of the bottling process, these bottled waters are additionally purified and produced in accordance with FDA standards. In addition, FDA standards apply to both domestic and imported brands, no matter where they are produced and sold.

Energy use in manufacturing, storage and transport

The Pacific Institute estimates that producing the bottles for American consumption in 2006 required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil. 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. [ [ Pacific Institute - Bottled Water and Energy: A Fact Sheet] ] However, these figures are minimal in comparison to oil's use in transportation and the broader food and beverage industry.

The plastic bottle then must be taken to where it is filled, then to the store, and finally into the consumer's hand. Once the bottle is created and filled with water, it is delivered to stores by means of ground transportation. Some bottled water is transported long distances by ship in addition to the distances it travels by truck or rail. Water is so heavy that the trucks that transport water are not able to carry a full load of bottles. []

An estimated 250g of CO2 are released for each bottle of FIJI Water imported to the United States. This includes 93g for manufacturing a bottle in China, 4g for transporting an empty bottle to Fiji, and 153g for shipping a full bottle to the United States. [ Estimate by Pablo Päster as quoted on [ Treehugger] ]

Overall, the average energy cost to make the plastic, fill the bottle, transport it to market and then deal with the waste would be "like filling up a quarter of every bottle with oil." (Peter Gleick, an expert on water policy and director at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. [ [ Pacific Institute - Bottled Water and Energy: A Fact Sheet] and [ (Seattle P.I.)] )]

Local effects on water resources

See also: Global use of fresh water

It also takes water to make a bottle. If a container holds 1 litre it requires 3 to 5 litres of water in its manufacturing process (the higher estimate includes power plant cooling water). By one estimate the total amount of water used to produce and deliver one litre bottle of imported water may be as high as 6.74 litres. []

In terms of groundwater impact, both withdrawals for the public supply and private bottled water stock have significantly less impact nationally (in the United States) than irrigation, (the heaviest user of groundwater at 68 percent), industrial, and farming uses. Only 19 percent of groundwater withdrawals in 2000 were used for public-supply purposes. [ [ Water Science for Schools: Ground water use in the U.S ] ]

Saltwater intrusion is a problem with tapping aquifers in coastal areas. In healthy ecosystems along coastal areas there is a natural flow of groundwater that pushes freshwater out against the saltwater, creating a kind of sea wall. When the groundwater is being over used and the flow falters as a result the saltwater will begin to creep underground, ruining drinking water, wetlands, and crops. Saltwater intrusion is already a problem in parts of coastal California, Florida, and New York as a result of the demands–including water for bottling–being made on local water supplies. []

Solid waste generation

Though the materials used for water bottles are generally recyclable, like most recyclable products, around 80% of water bottles sold in the U.S. end up in landfills. [] PET bottled water containers make up one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.

Economic impact

See also: Water supply and sanitation in Latin America

The economic impact of bottled water [ [ Bottled Water - What Is The True Cost?] ] consumption is especially relevant in developing countries, where tap water is often of poor quality and where, even if the quality of tap water may be acceptable, it is often difficult to obtain reliable data on the quality of tap water.

Bottled water use is especially high in countries such as Mexico and Brazil. While the poorest often can't afford bottled water and the richest face little economic constraints in buying bottled water, the cost of bottled water is a significant burden for middle-class households in many developing countries. For example, sales of bottled water in Mexico are estimated at 32 billion Pesos (US$ 3bn) in 2005, [ [ La Jornada] ] or about US$ 135 per household, which is about twice the level of the average tap water bill. If these funds were available to water utilities they would have the financial means to improve significantly the quality of tap water.Some investors, noting the rapidly growing demand for bottled water, have compared it to oil and gold. []

In 2004, Andrea Petersen wrote in the Wall Street Journal that "... for the first time, Americans are expected to buy more bottled water than beer or coffee. Sales of bottled water reached $7.7 billion in 2002, up 12% from 2001, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., a New York-based consulting company.” [] Bottled water is a big business and with the current trend, everyone trying to get a piece, the individual states and countries are beginning to voice their objections. Many states have voted the big companies not over pump on their soil. []

In Ontario, Canada, a fee has been aimed at commercial and industrial water users to contribute to the cost of managing the water supply. The fee has been dubbed a 'cost recovery regulatory charge'. Those charges are explicitly stated as not a tax but as a fee to create a more sustainable system. [ Polaris Institute] []

Another concern is the "privatization" of water. The United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, National Council of Churches, National Coalition of American Nuns and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among some of the religious organizations that have raised questions about whether or not this is ethical. They regard the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend. []

Health impact

About 25% of bottled water sold is simply re-processed/used municipal(city) water according to a 1999 study in the United States. [ According to a four-year study of drinking water in the United States by the Natural Resources Defense Council, see [ National Geographic 2006] and [ NRDC] ] Both Aquafina from Pepsi-Cola Company and Dasani from The Coca-Cola Company are reprocessed from municipal water systems. [ [ Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?] ] [ [ Is your bottled water coming from a faucet?] ] Some bottled waters, such as Penta Water make unverified health benefit claims Fact|date=May 2008. While there have been few comprehensive studies, one analysis several years ago found that about 22 percent of brands that were tested contain, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. If consumed over a long period of time, some of these contaminants could cause cancer or other health problems [ [ Drinking Water: In Brief: FAQ] ] at rates higher than those considered tolerable by the regulatory body setting the standards.

The FDA reports that:"about 75 percent of bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from natural underground sources, which include rivers, lakes, springs and artesian wells." The other 25% comes from municipal sources, which are the “sources” of two leading brands of bottled water--Dasani (Coca-Cola) and Aquafina (PepsiCo) [] .

Bottled water processed with distillation or reverse osmosis lacks fluoride ions which are sometimes naturally present in groundwater. The drinking of distilled water may conceivably increase the risk of tooth decay due to a lack of this element. [ [ Bottled Water Cited as Contributing to Cavity Comeback ] ] However, most people continue to cook with common tap water and this is thought to potentially provide sufficient fluoride to maintain normal prophylaxis in many instances. Any other minerals in tap water such as calcium and magnesium are present in such minuscule amounts that their absence is compensated for many thousands of times over by other dietary sources. On the other hand, some people wish to avoid exposure to fluoride, particularly systemic ingestion of fluoride in drinking water, and may choose such bottled water for this feature. []

Bottled water is typically printed with expiration dates. However, industry associations claim "bottled water can be used indefinitely if stored properly." [ [ Canadian Bottled Water Association] ]

Emergency response

Each year, the bottled water industry donates millions of bottles of water to areas around the world affected by natural disasters or cases where drinking municipal water is not an option because of contamination or another tap water taint, for example a recent contamination of the municipal water in Northamptonshire (UK) with cryptosporidium lead to Aqua Amore Limited [] donating six hundred and forty eight litres of Iskilde bottled water to nursing homes in the area left without clean drinking water [] . While many anti-bottled water activists do recognize the importance of bottled water in times of emergencies and when municipal water is not available, they fail to realize that production bottled water only for emergency distribution is not commercially feasible. [ [ IBWA Press Release ] ]


Regulation of bottled water varies widely by country, with developed nations generally having more regulation and enforcement than developing countries.

Regulation in the United States

In the United States, specific definitions and meanings ("standards of identity") apply to the most common types of bottled water. Bottled water manufacturers must ensure that their products meet the FDA established standard of identity for bottled water products.

A bottled water product bearing a particular statement of identity (e.g., mineral water) must meet the requirements of the standard of identity in order to avoid being misbranded. For example, under the standard of identity regulations bottled water may only be labeled "mineral water" in the United States if it: (1) contains not less than 250 ppm total dissolved solids; (2) comes from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or springs; (3) originates from a hydrogeologically protected source; and (4) contains no added minerals.

There are similar definitions for bottled water, drinking water, artesian water, ground water, distilled water, deionized water, reverse osmosis water, purified water, sparkling bottled water, spring water, sterile water and well water. A bottled water product must bear the appropriate name as reflected in the applicable standard of identity definition or it is misbranded.

Nutritional information required on water bottle labels varies from region to region and country to country. In the U.S. the only labeling required in the traditional "nutrition" label, which has almost no relevant information for water. In Europe, labels must include a chemical analysis for a far wider set of minerals. Bottled water in the U.S. is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who demand suppliers use an "approved source", which the FDA defines as:

: [approved source] "means a source of water...that has been inspected and the water sampled, analyzed, and found to be of a safe and sanitary quality according to applicable laws and regulations of state and local government agencies having jurisdiction."

In the United States, tap water is regulated by the stringent United States Environmental Protection Agency, bottled water is "not" held to these requirements.

In addition, bottled water is one of thousands of beverage and food products sealed in safe, sanitary containers, which may be made from plastic or glass. Plastics and all other materials used for contact with foods or beverages must be allowed by FDA to help assure their safety.

U.S. FDA "Standards of Identity" for Bottled Water

The FDA has established "Standards of Identity" [21 C.F.R. § 165.110,] for bottled water products sold in the U.S. Note that other countries have different definitions and standards; some countries have no consistent labeling requirements. Some of the more common U.S. types of bottled water are listed below:

*Artesian Water - This type of water originates from a confined aquifer that has been tapped. The distinguishing feature of water from an artesian aquifer is that it flows from the tap due to gravity; the subterranean water level is at a height greater than that of the location of the tap.

*Fluoridated Water - This type of water contains fluoride added within the limitations established in the FDA Code of Federal Regulations. This category includes water classified as "For Infants" or "Nursery."

*Ground Water - This type of water is from an underground source that is under a pressure equal to or greater than atmospheric pressure.

*Mineral Water - This type of water contains at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids (TDS). It comes from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or spring, and originates from a geologically and physically protected underground water source. No minerals may be added to this water.

*Purified water - This type of water has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes. Purified water may also be referred to as "demineralized water." It meets the definition of "purified water" in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

*Sparkling Water - This type of water contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had at emergence from the source. The carbon dioxide may be removed and replenished after treatment.

*Spring Water - This type of water comes from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the Earth's surface.

*Sterile Water - This type of water meets the requirements under "sterility tests" in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

*Well Water - This type of water is taken from a well.

EU Regulations for bottled water

European Directive 80/777/EEC [ [ European Directive 80/777/EEC] ] - modified by Directive 96/70/EC [ [ Directive 96/70/EC] ] - deals with the marketing and exploitation of natural mineral waters in the European Union. Two main types of bottled water are recognized:
*Mineral water
*Spring waterBroadly speaking, "mineral water" is groundwater that has emerged from the ground and flowed over rock. Treatment of mineral water is restricted to removal of unstable elements such as iron and sulfur compounds. Treatment for such minerals can only extend to filtration or decanting with oxygenation. Free carbon dioxide may be removed only by physical methods, and the regulations for introduction (or reintroduction) of CO2 are strictly defined. Disinfection of natural mineral water is completely prohibited, including the addition of any element that is likely to change bacterial colony counts. If natural mineral is effervescent, it must be labelled accordingly, depending on the origin of the carbon dioxide:
*Naturally carbonated natural mineral water (no introduction of CO2)
*Natural mineral water fortified with gas from the spring (reintroduction of CO2)
*Carbonated natural mineral water (CO2 added following strict guidelines)

"Spring water" is also derived from groundwater sources, but is collected by means of a well - in practice, often a borehole. Spring water may be subject to various kinds of treatment prior to bottling.

The same chemical and microbiological parametric quality regimes apply to both types of waters.

It should be noted that an additional kind of bottled water - that considered as being used as a "medicinal product" - is dealt with in Council Directive 65/65/EEC [ Council Directive 65/65/EEC] and this is excluded from the scope of the other two pieces of legislation.

Alternatives to bottled water

Tap water

In developed countries, municipal water is generally of high quality, and provides a far cheaper alternative to pure or bottled water. In municipalities where the water is of a somewhat lower quality, the use of home filtration systems such as Brita, Culligan, Kinetico or PUR filters provides potable water at considerably lower cost than pure or bottled waterFact|date=April 2007.

In many areas of the world, good municipal water is unavailable. The United Nations estimates that in 2005, 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe, affordable, drinking water, and two to five million people die every year from preventable water-related diseases. In areas without a consistent supply of safe, potable water, alternatives to bottled water include boiling, filtering, or otherwise processing contaminated water to remove harmful pathogens or chemicalsFact|date=April 2007.

Even where advanced water filters are not available, and fuel for boiling is scarce, effective water filters can be made in a few hours from clay by hand without advanced technology or skills. [ [ Water Filter] ] . In some areas, water may be obtained from and in the form of rainwater, stored in a cistern or rainwater tank. In rural areas the rain is typically very pure and can be safely consumed without additional treatment or filtrationFact|date=April 2007

Ground water obtained through pumps or wells should be monitored for quality to ensure no risk of contamination or build up. Many people in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India are drinking groundwater that has been discovered to be contaminated with arsenic after wells were drilled to protect the population from the contaminated surface waterFact|date=April 2007.

Many countries have water that is adequate for drinking on tap, due to filters in the plumbing infrastructure.

oft drinks

In vending machines bottled water is usually a substitute for soft drinks. If water fountains are not available bottled water is a healthier alternativedubious |might just as well say "low calorie" than soft drinks and produce no more waste products than the soft drink that it replaces.

Bottled water service

It is not uncommon for business, or sometimes individual, customers to subscribe to a bottled water service, which, instead of selling drinking water in small individual-use bottles, supplies it in large, reusable (in the USA, typically 5 US gallons) containers. This practice eliminates the issue of disposing empty bottles; however it is the same product found in the individual servings.

Purified water vending machines

A number of companies worldwide, among which are a number of North American supermarket chains, have vending machines that dispense purified water into customer's own containers, again obviating the costs and environmental issues involved in manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of, plastic bottles. When offered in low-income areas, this practice makes purified water more affordable to local population.

ee also

* Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI)
* International Bottled Water Association
* Reuse of water bottles


* Arrowhead
* Aquafina
* Aquapod
* Belu (company)
* Bisleri
* Borjomi
* Bling H2O
* Crystal Geyser
* Crystal Springs
* Dasani
* Diamond Springs
* Deer Park
* Dejà Blue
* Earth Water
* Ein Gedi
* Elsenham
* Evian
* Farris
* FIJI water
* Glaceau
* Galvanina
* Gerolsteiner
* Highland Spring
* Iceland Pure Spring Water
* Ice Mountain
* Imsdal
* Malvern
* Mey Eden
* Nestlé Pure Life
* Neviot
* NZ Natural
* Olden
* One Water
* Ozarka
* Panna (water)
* Pellegrino
* Pennine Spring
* Perrier
* Poland Spring
* Propel Fitness Water
* Ramlösa
* Roaring Spring
* South Pacific Water Company
* Souroti
* Spa
* Ty Nant
* Vata
* Volvic (mineral water)
* Voss
* Zephyrhills
* 3ppmwater


External links

* [ US Environmental Protection Agency Health Series:Bottled Water]
* [ Think Outside The Bottle] Corprorate Accountability International's campaign to challenge corporate control of water.
* [ Water of the World] , the largest list of bottled water on the web.
* [ Message in a Bottle] , an in-depth Fast Company article on the impact of bottled water on our economy and environment
* [ International Bottled Water Association]
* [ Bottled Twaddle: Is bottled water tapped out?] , from Scientific American
* [ Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?] - extensive study of bottled water quality from NRDC
* [ "E the Environmental Magazine" piece on bottled water] (Oct 2003).
* [ Researcher Dispels Myth of Dioxins and Plastic Water Bottles] : Dr. Rolf Halden says "There are no dioxins in plastics." but "If you heat up plastics, you could increase the leaching of phthalates" and "It is very important to drink adequate amounts of water ... Unless you are drinking really bad water, you are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of dehydration than from the minuscule amounts of chemical contaminants present in your water supply."
* Emily Arnold, Earth Policy Institute 2006 Press release, [ Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain] '
* British Bottled Water Producers []
* [ Bottled Water vs Tap Water: Making a Healthy Choice] fact sheet from the San Francisco Department of Public Health
* [ Santa Clara Valley Water District Tap v Bottled Page]
* [ ""]
* [ aWater4u]
* [ "Tap water wears a bow tie when it's put in a bottle and sold"] News article about bottled water companies operating during droughts

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