Because of the transporting and packaging involved, bottled water has a much higher carbon footprint per litre than tap water – more than 300 times the CO2 emissions per litre in the case of some imported brands. Thames Water calculates that a litre of its tap water accounts for 0.0003kg of CO2.
Fossil fuels are also used in the packaging of water. The most commonly used plastic for making water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil. There’s enough oil used in the production process of bottled water in the UK to heat 32,000 homes for a year – quite an opportunity cost for a product that you don’t really need – and another 45,000 tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
By the time one bottle of alpine water makes its way to China – where it has become a popular prestige product- it has released some 250 grams of CO2 in its travels: about 95 grams is from the plastic manufacture in China, another 5 grams or so for the empty bottle’s trip from China to Europe, and another 150g for shipping the full bottle back to China.
Most plastic bottles will then end up either in landfill (a finite resource which is rapidly becoming exhausted and where the empty bottles will stay buried for millennia) or incineration (leading to more pollution and more CO2). Sadly all too many bottles never really die – they somehow end up in the sea – floating around until they are washed up on a beach somewhere.
For more on this visit: http://www.tapwater.org/faqs