Study: Water Bottles Worse Than Tap Water

Researchers found that in a scenario in which an entire population drank bottled water, the impact on natural resources would be 3,500 times greater than if the same population only drank tap water. In the same scenario, the impact on species lost per year would be as much as 1,400 times higher. It also takes 2,000 times the amount of energy to create bottled water. The life-cycle assessment used to generate the estimates took into account species lost per year, natural resource usage, energy, and chemicals used from production to waste disposal.

The research, spearheaded by Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), also found that if every person in Barcelona drank bottled water, the cost of resource extraction would be up to 3,500 times greater—$83.9 million—than if everyone drank from the tap. This vastly outweighs some of the health risks associated with drinking tap water.

Globally, more than 1 million bottles are sold per minute. In the United States alone, annual bottle demand needs 17 million barrels of oil to produce enough plastic.