Message about the bottle

Industry data shows bottled water consumption on the rise as the summer months approach. When was the last time you reconsidered your drinking habits?
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Apparently, more people will hydrate this summer in the heat using bottled water than since 2008 and 2009. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is reporting that consumption of bottled water rose by 3.5 percent in 2010, a phenomenon it pins to the general turnaround in the economy.

Overall, bottled water accounts for approximately 30 percent of the "liquid refreshment beverages" marketplace. That's up slightly from the share in 2009, according to the statistics compiled by IBWA in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corp.

How much water are we talking about? Roughly 8.75 billion gallons, the data show.

In the United States, bottled water accounts for approximately 15 percent of beverages consumed.

Naturally, when I saw these statistics, it raised my eyebrow because of the packaging and recycling implications associated with bottled water. I've been trying to curb my own consumption, although it is tough to do when we have large social gatherings and all the "alternatives" are begging to be drunk in their single-serve containers. So, I've focused instead on trying to buy the most "responsible" water, from a health and packaging standpoint. If you can figure out which one that is, I sure want to know about it because I'm pretty baffled.

In the press release detailing the consumption stats, IBWA notes that bottled water containers are recyclable, and that the weight of PET resin plastic in most single-serve bottles has been decreased by 32 percent over the past eight years; it also cites some statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimating that bottled water makes up only one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream. Mind you, this is the point of view of an organization that serves as an advocated for the bottled water industry, so you would expect its viewpoint to be rather positive.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's view on bottled water -- the purety of what's in the bottle as well as the recycling dilemma -- has traditionally been a bit more skeptical. You can balance its view with that of BottledWaterWeb, which provides an industry perspective.

In any case, as the summer months arrive in the United States, outdoor activities began apace and water consumption rises, this new data serves as a reminder to consider not just the source of the water you are drinking but also its impact on the environment.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards