The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) estimates that annual consumption of bottled water is estimated to be around 89 billion litres. While the US is the biggest consumer of bottled water, the global bottled water consumption has doubled between 1997 and 2005. In
the same period, India’s consumption has tripled and China’s doubled. Ling Li, in his report for Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, estimates that bottled water costs from 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water. That means in dollar terms, most industrialised countries spend $500 to $1,000 dollars per cubic metre of bottled water compared to, say, 50 cents per cubic metre tap water in the state of California.
The California Recycling Institute reveals that water bottle production in US of A consumes 47 million gallons of oil and produces one billion pound of carbon dioxide. The rapid growth of the industry also means more groundwater extraction from the regions where the bottling plants are located, which has serious ramifications on the surrounding eco-systems. For example, the world’s largest bottled water producer, Nestle’s, proposes to extract billions of gallons of spring water, which will have a devastating impact on McCloud River. Yet, in spite of all these factors, is bottled water essentially much safer? The popular perception need not be that sacrosanct, with many nations reporting spurious and counterfeit bottled water basically containing tap water. In fact, the huge increase in bottled water sales is more an outcome of marketing effort than anything else. Ironical is the fact that such a huge industry exists simply because government’s cannot provide clean tap water! It’s a shame!