There are two ways to look at that question: a) how much water do users leave in their bottles as they dispose of the bottle, OR b) how much water is used (by implication, unnecessarily) in making the bottles themselves?
The first question is a tricky one, as all bottle users are different and there’s no feasible way to track wastage at the point of bottle disposal, whether that’s a trash can or recycle bin.
The second question, on the other hand, has been heavily researched by a number of organizations. The Pacific Institute, for example, estimates that the production of a plastic water bottle consumes twice the amount of water as is actually in the bottle. In other words, a 1-liter bottle of water for sale “represents” 3 liters of water consumed.
Other concerns surrounding bottled water include: the amount of energy that goes into manufacturing a bottle (according to the Pacific Institute, the equivalent of filling 1/4 of the bottle with petroleum); the fact that the PET plastic for disposable bottles is typically made from natural gas or petroleum; for the bottles that do get recycled, recycling consumes additional water and energy, and typically yields a plastic product with less utility than before (this is called “downcycling”); and finally, there is growing concern about the health effects of plastic leachates in drinking water, especially from the chemicals Bisphenol A, DEHP, and DEHA.
For more information about plastic-bottled water, consumption, and the industry, see the Pacific Institute URL below. For an elaboration of downcycling, see the Wikipedia URL below.
Simply put, Americans use an unnecessary amount of bottle water to meet their hydration needs. As a country, Americans spend over $11 billion for bottle water and use. Technology for cleaning up tap water and making sure it is clean has improved over the years in addition to the use of water filters. It costs cents to drink tap water and filter it.
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