What is the environmental impact of bottled water?

The UK has a 7.7 billion a year single use plastic bottle habit. Less than half of these are recycled. Which means the rest are in landfills taking at least 400 years to decompose. And sales continue to rise.

So why are we buying more when the damage to the environment has been so well publicised? 

Well, firstly it is mainly down to convenience. I get it. You’re on the go and thirsty or need a pick me up. Bottled water and drinks are now ubiquitous. They are readily available wherever we go. Maybe you just prefer the taste of bottled water. Maybe, the addictive nature of fizzy drinks means you are often inclined to have just one more!

And let’s face it, the big brands know how to tempt us and encourage us to change our ways. Over the years, clever design and marketing has persuaded us that water presented in a bottle is somehow more desirable and health-promoting than the freely available resource coming out of our taps.

However many of us are now realising the detrimental effect of this booming industry. 

  • The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.
  • Globally the production and transportation of bottled water uses 160 million  barrels of oil per year.
  • 159 plastic bottles litter each beach in the UK.
  • Even the statistics can be confusing. The current U.K. recycling rate is 45%. But this means 45% of our waste goes in a recycling bin. It isn’t necessarily recycled. Some councils incinerate a large proportion of it.

When plastic degrades it breaks down into small pieces which end up in our oceans and ultimately into the food chain. A recent study also showed that microscopic plastic particles can be found in 90% of brands of bottled water. You may also want to consider the toxins leaching out of plastic into our food and water.

I am sure, like me, you have often seen discarded plastic bottles in the streets and in parks. This sight saddens me. It seems that the message about plastic pollution doesn’t seem to be getting through to everyone. Perhaps we all need a little nudge in the right direction to encourage us to change our behaviour.

The Deposit Return Scheme, being introduced in Scotland in 2022, may be a way to focus our minds on the issue. It’s really good news that The Scottish Government is taking the plastic problem seriously but avoiding using the plastic in the first place would be even better. Rather than promoting increased plastic production and plastic recycling.

That’s why, here at Last, we’re encouraging the use of plastic free products such as a reusable drinks bottle. Hopefully, you too, will start to make changes like this to help reduce the detrimental impact such products have on our environment.

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