Bottled Water Packaging Reduced By Nearly Half In Less Than A Decade, Study Finds

Posted On: 10/31/2017

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ALEXANDRIA, VA -- A new study commissioned by the International Bottled Water Association shows that the amount of materials used to make plastic and glass bottled water containers has been reduced by 42.8% between 2007 and 2015.

The Quantis Life Cycle Inventory and Environmental Footprint of Bottled Water for the North American Market study found the total grams of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle material per gallon of bottled water (excluding labels and caps) has been reduced from 129 g. in 2007 to 73.9 g. in 2015.

The report measured key environmental metrics such as greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), energy and solid waste for the production of bottled water, which is packaged in 100% recyclable containers.

Key findings include that small-pack bottled water products (such as half-liter and gallon size) have a GHG footprint of 6,920 kg of carbon dioxide-equivalent per 10,000 gallons of water sold in 2015. By comparison, carbonated soft drinks have a footprint of 20,400 kg CO2-equivalent per 10,000 gallons, nearly three times more than small-pack bottled water.

Home and office delivery bottled water products (2.5-, 3- and 5-gallon size) have a footprint of 6,720 kg CO2-equivalent per 10,000 gallons of water sold in 2015.

Additionally, IBWA explained several measures its members have taken to improve their water management. They include reducing groundwater extraction through improved water processing and bottling, implementing water use restrictions at their facilities, and monitoring natural springs to assess the potential impact on local groundwater levels and stream flows.

As a result of these water -reduction efforts, bottled water has the lowest water footprint of all packaged drinks, the IBWA claimed, using just 1.32 liters of water --including the 1 liter of water that is bottled -- to produce a 1-liter product.

For the first time in history, bottled water consumption outpaced carbonated soft drinks to become the No. 1 beverage in the U.S. in 2016. Preliminary 2017 figures indicate bottled water's popularity is continuing to grow, according to data from New York City-based Beverage Marketing Corp.