Green Per Square Foot

Bottled water facts July 29th, 2014


Resource use for plastic bottle production

  • Oil: In 2006, over 17 million barrels of oil (equivalent to 106 billion megajoules of energy) were used to produce all the plastic bottles consumed in America (Pacific Institute). This production also released roughly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (Corporate Responsibility International).
  • Water: For every one liter of bottled water produced, three liters of water were used (Pacific Institute).
  • Energy: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in 2006, 6,300 tons of global warming pollution were released from the shipment of bottled water to America from Fiji and Western Europe alone. The total energy use for producing, shipping, refrigerating, and disposing of bottled water is equivalent to an estimated 32-54 million barrels of oil (LiveScience). That is enough oil to fuel ~1.5 million cars for 12 whole months.


Although most plastic water bottles are made from recyclable PET plastic, according to the NRDC only 13% of plastic water bottles get recycled annually. That means that every year, millions of tons of plastic from bottled water end up either in landfills, incinerators, or as trash on the street each year. When in landfills, plastic bottles take hundreds of years to break down, and they can leach chemicals into the surrounding soil and waterways. When incinerated, plastic bottles release chemicals such as chlorine gas and ash that contains heavy metals (NRDC).


  • Monetary: Bottled water can cost anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times as much per gallon as tap water (in many places in America, tap water costs pennies per gallon)
  • Social: Those living by bottled water plants can be negatively impacted by bottle production. Chemicals from these plants can release toxins into the air, soil and water in surrounding areas. Landfills also create odor problems, and chemicals from plastics in landfills can leach into the surrounding soil and water.


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