The Main Environmental, Health, Social & Economic Consequences of Bottled Water

The life and death nature of water for survival of all creatures means that it should remain in public hands and consumed at environmentally sound rates…

“It is deeply concerning that the 1 in 3 Canadians who primarily drink bottled water as their source of drinking water, are consuming an unregulated and environmentally harmful product” says Joe Cressy, Campaigns Coordinator of the Polaris Institute and co-author of the report: Murky Waters – The Urgent Need for Health and Environmental Regulations of the Bottled Water Industry, available:

http://www.polarisinstitute.org/files/Murky%20Waters%20-%20The%20Urgent%20Need%20for%20Health%20and%20Environmental%20Regulations%20of%20the%20Bottled%20Water%20Industry.pdf

Concerns With Bottled Water:

Health & Economics:
– bottled water plants are inspected about once every 3 YEARS
– tap water is tested at least 4-5 times per DAY
– since 2000, there’s been 29 recalls of 49 bottled water products in Canada
– Health Canada recommends that you DON’T drink bottled water purchased for more than 1 year
– the industry itself doesn’t recommend re-using their own bottles
– bottled water corporations pay a VERY CHEAP fee of $3.79/one million litres… which is bottled and sold at up to a 2000X mark-up compared to tap water – more than gas!

Environmentally:
– 40% of the bottles are NOT recycled
– it takes 10X amount of water to create the bottle than what’s in it
– it is as much as 2000X more energy intensive than tap water
– creates 150X the amount of GHGs than tap water
– Dasani & Aquafina have now admitted that their water is from the tap
– Bottled water corporations PUMP MILLIONS of litres of groundwater per DAY distrupting local ecosystems and ground water supplies of small communities
(ground water is not renewable, when Nestle pumps on average of 3.6 million litres PER DAY, it is a concern because almost half of Canadians rely on groundwater and we have yet to map out how much we have left)

Public Accountability:
– aggressive marketing now has 1 in 3 Canadians believing bottled water is better than tap when the complete opposite may be true
– it has undermined public confidence in the publicly funded tap water system affordable to all
– support of bottled water is support of commercialization of a dwindling resource without accountability towards sustainability, health and water as a human right first
– there are water shortages in every single developed country including Canada

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Student Concerns with Phasing out Bottled Water [Courtesy of the University of Winnipeg]:

“CONSUMER CHOICE: IF YOU BAN BOTTLED WATER, IT WILL LIMIT MY RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHAT I CAN DRINK.”

• The real choice is between bottled water (and all it’s environmental, health, social and economic impacts) and safe, clean and affordable publicly – delivered tap water.

• You cannot get cola or any other beverages from the tap.

• There is a role for bottled water where potable tap water is not available or in emergency situations such as when municipal waters systems are interrupted – but bottled water should not be a long-term solution to people’s daily hydration needs. Safe, clean and accessible
drinking water should be a basic human right, not a commodity for profit that people should have to pay for.

• In many cases, water fountains are lacking in repairs, removed altogether and/or not built in new facilities. What are the implications if this trend continues, and accessible public tap water is not prioritized? There will be no choice but to pay for bottled water from a vending machine.

“TAP WATER IS UNHEALTHY”

• Under provincial regulations, put forward through Canada’s Drinking Water Guidelines, Canadian municipalities are required to test drinking water multiple times daily. On the other hand, bottled water is regulated under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act as a low-risk product and bottled water plants are inspected on average every one to three years.

• Bottled water industry representatives claim that they have a strong voluntary testing regime; however, there have been 29 bottled water recalls in Canada in the last 8 years due to various forms of contamination.

“WON’T STUDENTS JUST TURN TO UNHEALTHY SOFT DRINKS IF THEY CAN’T BUY WATER?”

• There is no evidence to suggest that without bottled water, people will consume unhealthy beverages such as colas. Again, the real choice is between the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of bottled water, and safe, clean and affordable publicly –
delivered tap water.

[NOTE: in a 2008/09 study done by the TDSB, it showed that elementary school students WILL turn to soft drinks, however, it must be stressed that this will probably be a short term dilemma and can be overcome with education and better infrastructure commitments & the TDSB’s refusal to ban bottled water is largely because of the lost revenue (which in face of continuous educational funding cuts from government, is serious)

I mean, seriously, how on earth did we survive WITHOUT bottled water in the past if these myths hold true? When 1 in 3 Canadians drink it exclusively as their daily water consumption, it IS a serious issue…


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