The amount of material used to make PET, HDPE and glass water bottles fell by more than 40% between 2007 and 2015.
A report into the environmental footprint of North America’s bottled water industry, commissioned by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), found that total bottle material per gallon of bottled water – excluding labels and caps – was 73.9g in 2015, down 42.8% from 129g eight years earlier.
The study also found positive performance on greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and the production of solid waste.
“The environmentally aware actions of bottled water companies, such as light-weighting our containers, using more recycled PET (rPET) in bottle production and increasing curbside recycling rates have impacted the environmental footprint of the industry in a positive way,” said Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications.
“Bottled water is America’s favourite packaged drink, and it also has the least impact on the environment compared to other packaged beverages. So, consumers who are drinking bottled water instead of other packaged drinks are making a healthy choice and also reducing the impact on the environment.”
The study’s key findings
In 2016, for the first time in history, bottled water consumption outpaced carbonated soft drinks to become the most widely consumed beverage in the US. Preliminary 2017 figures indicate bottled water’s popularity is continuing to grow, according to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), which indicate that consumers are drinking bottled water instead of other less healthy beverages. Consumption of bottled water climbed from 27.6 gallons per person in 2006 to 39.3 gallons in 2016, and during that same period consumption of carbonated soft drinks dropped by 11.9 gallons per person.
“The bottled water industry is also an efficient water user,” Culora continued. “Minimising water use has long been a part of the bottled water industry’s legacy of protecting, maintaining, and preserving water resources for future generations. The bottled water industry is continually developing new and innovative ways to conserve this precious resource.”
Yesterday, FoodBev explored how Nestlé Waters North America had become the first beverage company to achieve certification from the Alliance For Water Stewardship (AWS), with plans to increase the number of bottling plants certified under the scheme from four to 20.
The IBWA explained a number of measures taken by its members 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 litres of water – including the 1 litre of water that is bottled – to produce a 1-litre product.
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