Half of the money spent globally on bottled water sales of which have exploded in recent decades would be enough to provide universal – access to clean drinking water from taps, according to a UN study.
A shift in drinking habits away from bottled water would also lead to a big drop in plastics waste, as an estimated 85 percent of bottles end up in landfills, the report says. However, the study’s Canada-based authors flag that a misconception around the safety of both tap and bottled water plays a major role in individuals’ preferences.
“The perception is that bottled water is the healthiest option,” lead author Zeineb Bouhlel said. “But we’ve shown that this is not necessarily the case, and people are paying a lot more for bottled water, from 150 to 1,000 times higher than for a litre of tap water,” she said
According to the study, contaminants have been found in hundreds of bottled water brands in more than 40 countries, often exceeding local or global standards. Over the past decade, global bottled water sales jumped 73 percent to almost $270 billion and 350 billion litres. Some 600 billion plastic bottles are produced each year, amounting to approximately 25 million tonnes of plastic waste.