What Is The Real Cost Of Bottled Water?

As John McCain and Hillary Clinton tell Americans tales of a gas tax holiday to relieve us of a whole 20 cents per gallon this summer (we’re paying more than four dollars anyway) it’s probably worth discussing one of the other reasons that gas is so darn expensive…

Of course, the reason is demand. Although developing countries such as China and India take the blame, there are other forces at work. Bottled water for example, which despite being past its peak, consumes roughly 17 million barrels of oil every year, not including transportation. The worst part of it is that that’s not even half the problem.

In addition to the 17 million barrels of oil (equivalent to just under the GDP of the Cayman Islands at today’s prices) used in production, bottled water consumes gallons and gallons of water.

Three gallons of the wet stuff is required to produce one gallon of what you will happily pay a dollar for, largely because of the length and complexity of the various “purification” processes and the evaporation loss that takes place while the water is in the plant. This is quite an ugly statistic, when juxtaposed to the fact that less than one percent of the water on our planet is both accessible and potable.

Besides the extravagant amount of oil used to make the bottles and large volumes of water used in the bottling process, there are of course, several other considerations. Firstly, there are the transport costs - by the time you transport every bottle by rail or truck and keep it cool, you may as well have filled it one-fourth of the way with oil. Let’s also not forget the operating costs of the factories themselves and the profit the bottled water companies have to make for their shareholders.Therefore, purely from an economic standpoint, if you only drink bottled water, you’re a mug.

Beyond that, there is also an environmental impact from production. This in fact, is quite simple to calculate: every ton of PET plastic for the bottles produces 3 tons of carbon–adding 2.5 Million tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the 17 million barrels of oil.

[via environmentalgraffiti]

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