The Environment

The Environment

The bottled water industry is demonstrating solid environmental leadership when it comes to water conservation and efficiency.

Bottled water companies utilize and manage water resources in a responsible manner by doing the following:

  • Investing in broadly accepted science and technology to improve water quality
  • Strengthening water conservation practices

According to figures derived from EPA data, PET plastic bottled water containers account for less than 1/4 of 1% of the U.S. waste stream. Bottled water production accounts for less than 0.02% of the total groundwater withdrawn each year. Measured in tons of landfill space, PET plastic bottled water containers make up just 3.3% of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. Waste percentage numbers are much higher for the glass (66.7%), aluminum (7.9%), and plastic soft drink bottles (13.3%) that end up in landfills.

Even with continuing growth and increased consumption, bottled water still has the smallest water and energy use footprint of any packaged beverage. The results of a 2014 IBWA benchmarking study show that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages. On average, only 1.32 liters of water (including the liter of water consumed) and 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water.

Even though it is a minimal groundwater user and is only one of among thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users, bottled water companies actively support comprehensive groundwater management policies that are science-based, multi-jurisdictional, treat all users equitably, and provide for future needs of this important resource.

All bottled water containers are 100% recyclable. And, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), now at 37%, the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled in the last nine years. We also use less plastic in bottled water bottles – and plastic bottled water containers are the most frequently recycled PET plastic beverage container in curbside recycling programs.

The Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) also found that between 2000 and 2014, the average weight of a 16.9 ounce (half-liter) single-serve PET plastic bottled water container has dropped 51% to 9.7 grams. This has resulted in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.

The bottled water industry recognizes that recycling rates, although increasing, need to improve and the industry is actively working to build partnerships that will help increase recycling efforts.