It Takes 17 Million Barrels Of Oil Each Year To Make Water Bottles

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It Takes 17 Million Barrels
Graphic: © herbs-info.com. Image source – Pixabay (PD).

The popularity of bottled water has increased tremendously in the last few years. In fact, statistics show that the sale of bottled water in American rose three times faster than the market average in 2015. [1] The country seems to have an insatiable appetite for the beverage – but at what cost?


While most of us are aware of the negative impact on non-biodegradable bottles on eco-systems, you’d be surprised to learn of the amount of energy used to produce bottled water. According to a study conducted by researchers from the Pacific Institute in California, “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.” [2]

Implications of the Findings
To gain a clear picture of the environmental impact of bottled water, we have to consider all the different phases of energy consumption before the beverage touches the lips of thirsty consumers around the globe. This includes the following:


⦁ Amount of energy it takes to manufacture water bottles: Plastic bottles are mainly made from pellets of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Turning PET into a plastic bottle consumed the largest share of energy in the cycle.

⦁ The energy needed to treat/process the water: Although the amount of energy used is substantially less, its percentage depends on the number of treatments used.

⦁ Filling and capping the water bottles

⦁ Transporting bottled water to consumers: This depends on the transportation method and distance – with air cargo being the costliest.

References:


[1] Fishman, C. 2016. If Bottled Water Is So Bad, Why Are Sales Hitting Records? https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/04/160420-bottled-water-sales-record-high-despite-environmental-opposition/.

[2]The Pacific Institute. (2007). Integrity of Science: Bottled Water and Energy Factsheet: Getting to 17 Million Barrels https://pacinst.org/publication/bottled-water-fact-sheet/.


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