March 18, 2013
 

By Pacific Institute Staff

Sales and consumption of bottled water have skyrocketed in recent years. From 1988 to 2002, the sales of bottled water globally more than quadrupled to over 131 million cubic meters annually. Bottled water sales worldwide are continuing to increase annually far faster than almost any other category of commercial beverage. As of 2013, more than 50% of Americans drank bottled water occasionally or as their major source of drinking water – an astounding fact given the high quality and low cost of U.S. tap water.

Why the great growth in bottled water sales? Bottled water typically costs a thousand times more per liter than high-quality municipal tap water. Are consumers willing to pay this price because they believe that bottled water is safer than tap water? Do they have a real taste preference for bottled water? Or is the convenience of the portable plastic bottle the major factor? Are they taken in by the images portrayed in commercials and on the bottles?

The answers are consequential. We estimate that total global consumer expenditures for bottled water are approximately $100 billion per year – a vast sum that both indicates consumers are willing to pay for convenient and reliable drinking water and that society has the resources to make comparable expenditures to provide far greater quantities of water for far less money by investing in reliable domestic supplies.

Ironically, despite its cost, users should not assume that the quality of bottled water is adequately protected, regulated, or monitored. Even where regulations exist, bottled water plants typically receive far less scrutiny from inspectors than other food plants or municipal water systems. In many places, such as the United States, bottlers themselves do most sampling and testing, which opens the door to fraud, misreporting, and inadequate protection. Ultimately, the provision of clean water to all will not come from sales of bottled water but from effective actions of communities, governments, and municipal providers to provide a safe and reliable domestic water supply.

4 Replies to “Bottled Water”

  1. this is very biased information. What about Evian? of course its safer and better for you than tap water. Your article fails to mention all the chemicals that go into cleaning tap water.

    1. Anyone can go onto a website to check their local water’s rating..Mine is at 9 pretty high for those who don’t want toxins in their body and actually will wreak havoc on your skin why bathing.

      1. I will trade the 11 of my water system rating for the 9 and not charge any extra. A person has to look at the testing source. Many water utilities do self-test. My water utility shows to be in compliance with federal mandates but the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows 333.3 ppb of Manganese. The EWG gives 100 ppb as a minimum but in actuality, that is too high. Louisiana ranks #9 out of 10 in the “Highest Cancer Rates” category. The numbers are too close. My local water system has recently performed a “clean out” for the first time in 30 years. It is called a “Chlorine burnout”, and reportedly safe with only water browning and a “short-term” high chlorine smell. It is also reported that the eye-burning hard to breathe smell is a good sign. All that can’t wait to shower with that in the morning right before drinking a fresh cup of chlorine coffee, raise your hand!

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