Bottled water is a popular commodity around the world. This article published in the February 2009 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters examines the energy requirements of various stages of bottled water production, including the energy required to manufacture the plastic bottles, process the water and the bottles, and transport and cool the final product. The authors find that bottled water production is up to 2000 times more energy-intensive than tap water. Similarly, bottled water that requires long-distance transport is far more energy-intensive than bottled water produced and distributed locally.
The Pacific Institute finds that it took approximately 17 million barrels of oil equivalent to produce plastic for bottled water consumed by Americans in 2006—enough energy to fuel more than 1 million American cars and light trucks for a year.