Bottled Water Impact on Environment

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Topic: Sciences
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Introduction

The bottled water industry cannot be stopped today because of the great awareness of people about drinking only bottled water so that they will not be ill. Another reason for the rise of the use of bottled water is because of the convenience that it offers in terms of portability. Unlike tap water, bottled water can be purchased anywhere be it in the supermarket or from vendors on the streets.

The problem that arises is that people do not appear to care for their actions upon finishing drinking the bottled water. For most of them, the litter bin is always home for the used bottles. What they seem not to care is the overall environmental impact of these bottles.

This report will present a rational argument about using bottled water and disposing of the containers. The research project shall seek to amplify the need for regulation of the used water bottles. It is quite obvious that water bottles are the highest in a number of all bottles thrown away after use. This stems from the fact it has a high consumption base which includes both adults and young people (IBWA, 2009).

The research shall take into account the contribution of lack of environment culture towards the increase of environmental degradation. This culture contribution shall be examined in the context of individuals as well as companies and corporations.

Big companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi shall be featured in the report to show the involvement of companies in the bottled water industry and the environmental effect to it. There is a need to come up with a quick solution as to how these impacts shall be reduced.

Background

Environmental conservation is a duty bestowed to both individuals as well as corporations. The bottled water industry has been on the rise. This stems from the fact that drinking water is important for everyone. People have to drink water, and bottled water offers a convenient way for people who are moving from one place to another.

Packaging of bottled water is normally done in plastics. Most of these plastics are normally disposable and therefore often litter the environment. Apart from littering the environment, they also have adverse effects on the environment generally. This is because plastic is made from inorganic material and therefore cannot decompose.

While there is a need to drink water, there is also a need to ensure that the environment is conserved. There is a need to strike a balance between the two. People trust bottled water because they believe that they are safer than tap water. This stems from the fact that bottled water had undergone different treatment procedures when it was being processed.

Scope of the Report

The main objective of this research shall be to find out how bottled waters contribute to environmental degradation. While it is axiomatic that people have to drink bottled, there is a need for regulation of the same. The research shall seek to examine the impact that bottled water has on the environment. Furthermore, the research shall delve into how utilization of water shall be done properly to curb the excessive usage of bottled water.

There is a need to critically examine the global approach of drinking bottled water and peoples lack of environmental awareness. The research is expected to show how the unregulated use of bottled water negatively affects the environment. It also seeks to come up with effective suggestions/recommendations as to how a rational use of water and the utilization of bottles can be of benefit to the whole society.

The research embarks on proving the dangers that unregulated usage of the bottled pose to the environment. It also seeks to share knowledge of how people can be able to respect nature and the environment as a whole. The report shall also come up with proposals and recommendations on how to improve the existing situation. The report has some suggestions that if implemented to the latter shall improve the culture of environmentally mindful.

Why people drink bottled water

There are several reasons why people have stuck to drinking bottled water. These reasons range from safety to other reasons such as taste. Below is a graph showing what percentage and the reason for their choice of bottled water.

Percentage and the reason for choice of bottled water

From the American Water Works Association Foundation, the Consumer Attitude Survey on Water Quality Issues, p. 19 (1993)

Bottled Water and Their Impact To the Environment

There has been a great controversy on the issue of regulating the bottling industry. The major controversy is among the economically-minded proponents against the environmental-minded proponents. Environmentalists have been calling for strict measures to regulate the packaging in plastic bottles.

They argue that the adverse effects that are to be suffered because of the environmental degradation are far-reaching and dire. On the other hand, there have been arguments of impacts that would be drastic and have far-reaching implications to the society as a whole.

These people look at how strict regulation in the bottling industry shall reduce the production of bottles. This will then lead to a loss of jobs, and the overall effect will also affect the economy. These people argue from the economic point of view and do not concern themselves with environmental issues.

Bottles as an environment degradation agent

Bottles are mainly made of plastic and glass. These are made out a complex combination of elements and inorganic substances (Barrett, 2009). The overall material for manufacturing these bottles are normally inorganic and therefore cannot decompose. This trait is what makes bottles to be environmental hazards.

Most people use these bottles and then throw them away with apathy as to what shall happen to these bottles later on. Findings on the level of recycling have shown laxity on both the bottling companies as well as individuals to recycle these bottles.

Plastic bottles are also made of resins. These are always not bio-degradable. This makes them hazardous to the environment. While there are laws requiring the recycling exist, they do not require total recycling. As a result, there are always residues which normally transform into dust particles. These particles sometimes find themselves in the sea and affect marine life adversely.

“Most single-serve bottles are either buried in landfills or burned in incinerators, or they make their way to the far corners of the earth: blown underneath train platforms, into the back of caves and alleys, along roadways, onto beaches, and out to the middle of the ocean, where the containers break into tiny pieces that sea creatures mistake for food,” (Royte, 2008).

Energy Consumption and waste in manufacturing Bottles

It is evident that the manufacturing of a bottle of water comes with its costs as well. These costs transform into multi-billions in a year bearing in mind the number of bottles being produced annually. The three main areas of consumption of energy in the bottle industry are in transport, production, and materials to be used.

In the manufacture of plastic energy, especially oil plays a very important role. As a country, the preservation of oil is very important since it is a non-renewable form of energy. This is important especially now that the world’s population keeps on increasing drastically.

Oil as a form of energy is used in the manufacture of plastics. Furthermore, treatments such as ultraviolet radiation, micro or ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and ozonation, all require added energy (Gleick & Cooley, 2009). Additionally, machines must rinse, fill, cap and label the bottles. “The average machine can clean, fill, and seal around 15,000 bottles per hour” (Gleick & Cooley, 2009).

Contribution of cultural influence To The Impact Of Bottled Water On Environment

Imperative to note is that the culture being contemplated in the context of this report is the apathy that is connected with the used bottles. Immediately, one quenches their thirst they are no longer concerned with the final destination of the bottled. Some just throw them away on the streets and in the process end up littering the area around them.

Cultural Behavior, Bottles and their contribution to environmental degradation

Bottled water is common in many social places. These include sports, political functions to mention but a few. It is convenient to carry around. It is also easily available in retail shops as well as other vending and hawking suppliers. The lack of concern of what happens after using the bottles has developed into a culture (Donahue & Johnston, 1998).

Even the seller companies such as Coca-Cola have developed a culture of selling their drinks in plastic bottles, cans as well as glasses. Recycling is only insisted where the glass bottles are being used. The same level of recycling in bottles made out of glass is not the same for plastic.

Branding has led to a culture that associates some drinks with sports. For instance, Coca Cola is a big sponsor of soccer events in many countries. The same company is also known for its product Sprite’s link to the basketball game — other sports where bottles of water are very common to include tennis and rugby.

The sad part is that while the corporations have done a lot in promoting their brands, not much effort has been put to ensure recycling of the bottles used. Companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi find it cheaper and more convenient to package their product in plastics. These plastics also find it easier to brand these plastic bottles. The companies should develop a culture of sensitizing their customers on the importance of environmentally friendly behaviors such as recycling.

Challenges Facing Environmental Concerns about Bottled waters

There are many factors that lead to the promotion of the usage of bottled water. These factors play a crucial role in fighting back the efforts intended to curb the environmental degradation from bottles. Below is a cursory analysis of the challenges that hamper the efforts to protect the environment from the bottled water.

Another challenge stems from the fact that the production of bottles is increasing day by day. It is estimated that in the United States every second, there are more than one thousand people opening a plastic bottle of water (Gleick, 2010). It is also at the same rate that bottles are being thrown away.

This translates to around eight five million bottles in one day and more than thirty billion bottles in one year. It is also worthy of note that these cost consumers billions of dollars too. Manufacturers have to meet the consumer demand, and therefore this means that more bottles are produced. At this rate, there is a huge challenge posed to the environmentalists who seek to put efforts against bottles.

Recommendations

There is a need for a culture shift from apathy on the impact of bottles on the environment with a culture that is mindful of the environment. The report appreciates that this is quite an uphill task but believes that it is achievable with good effort. The report, after an in-depth analysis of the culture of not caring for the environment, comes with the following recommendations.

First and foremost it is important to teach the general population on the importance of conserving the environment. During this public education, emphasis should be pinned to bottles and their effects. Education shall bring to the attention of people the desire to have a clean environment as well as how to achieve such an environment. Most people are sometimes unconscious of the implications of their acts.

Through educating people about the impact on the environment, these people shall be made aware of the implications and therefore decide to change (Corbett, 2006). Engaging the stakeholders in campaigns for environmental conservation is also recommended. The manufacturers, as well as the consumers, should try and figure out a solution.

For instance, the manufacturers may decide to offer their beverages in an alternative form of packaging. The manufacturers can also provide recycling centers in all the major consumer areas. For instance, there should be at least a bottle collection point in public places such as parks, campuses as well as stadia.

Apart from that, as part of the campaign to keep the environment clean, the manufacturer can decide that they write a message about being environmentally friendly. In this way, the consumers who are loyal to certain brands may decide to follow that message and recycle these bottles rather than littering the environment.

Recycling rates throughout the world are not extraordinary, and the United States’ rates look even more dismal. The average international recycling rate for beverage containers for the world is 50%, but the United States is 20%, and this number has been declining.

Another recommendation is for the government to intervene. Most government agencies lack the required means to fully execute the role of protecting g the environment from bottles (Royte, 2008). Before issuing licenses to any manufacturer, there is a need for a proper assessment on how the manufacturer of that bottled water is planning to deal with the used bottles.

The government authorities can also issue a directive to the management of social places where these bottles are likely to litter the environment such as schools, campuses, and stadia to have a proper plan on how to deal with these bottles.

Conclusions

Bottled water is part and parcel of today’s society. People have to drink water and other beverages too. The environmental concern is supposed to everybody’s business. For this reason, we need to join forces between the consumers as well as the manufacturers. The duty to preserve the environment can be efficiently observed if each member of the public appreciates the need for conservation.

There is also a need to engage companies in these bottled water industry in the campaign to have recycling done at its optimal level. The benefits to be attained, if this is to be done to the latter, are many. Everyone stands to benefit from a clean environment. Therefore it is everyone’s responsibility to make the environment clean. Therefore the consumers of bottled water should be responsible with the empty bottles.

References

Barrett, J. R. (2009). Endocrine Disruptors. Estrogens in a Bottle? Environmental Health Perspectives, 117 (6), A241.

Corbett, J. B. (2006). Communicating nature: how we create and understand environmental messages. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Donahue, J. M. & Johnston, B. R. (1998). Water, culture, and power: local struggles in a global context. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Gleick, P. H. (2010). Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. Washington DC: Island Press.

Gleick, P., & Cooley, H. (2009). Energy Implications of Bottled Water. Oakland, CA: IOP Publishing.

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) (2009). IBWA website. Retrieved from http://www.bottledwater.org/

Royte, E. (2008). Bottlemania: Big Businesses, Local Springs, and the Battle over America’s Drinking Water. New York: Bloomsbury USA.