The Environmental Impact of Bottled Water

Words: 2404
Topic: Sciences


Environmentally it would be very difficult to argue that waste management has become an eminent factor of consideration in the whole world. The development of land grows at an alarming rate while the rates of recycling remain dismally very low.

Considering the water industry, the amount of plastic bottles discarded by users exacerbates various environmental problems. In line with McKinney et al., (2007) bottled water has escalated today with a worldwide production of billions of liters yearly. The transportation energy required to distribute this water is a great drain to limited fossil fuels.

The significant environmental strains discussed in this paper focuses on the environmental effects of bottled water. The stains are inclined to the unregulated use of limited variable resources involved in the manufacture of billions of synthetic bottles as well as pollution due to improper discards.

Thesis statement

“Environmental effects of the bottled water.” This paper examines the real situational effects on the production of bottled water to environmental degradation. The analysis also focuses on the intellectual behavior of people regarding the effects of plastic bottles on the environment.

Objective/significance of the study

The main objective of the paper focuses on the production of bottled water and the environmental problems associated with it. Another significance of the study focuses on the global approach towards environmental awareness over the usage of bottled water. The paper also forms an analysis over the issue of rationality in the subject matter. Are people utilizing the environment appropriately? The analysis of what determines people’s disposal actions. Lastly, it addresses the issue of utilizing the bottle thereafter.

The procedure of the study

The literature reviews will enable for better understanding of the topic. Preparation of the research proposal over the chosen topic enables the researcher to prepare respondents earlier enough.

Information collected tabulates the ranks the findings to broad areas and helps to narrow the scope to the objectives of the study analysis. The analysis then concludes generally analyzed data in the literature reviewed.

Purpose of the study

Literature review

In the fight against the negative impact that the water bottles pose to the environment, some research has suggested the recycling of the bottles through washing and reuse. The reuse of plastic bottle would most likely compromise the quality of the water. (Golub, 2001)

The colorless bitter liquid called Phthalate compromises the water quality. The manufacture of plastic bottles involves light materials, and the liquid emerges from aging synthetic materials used to enhance flexibility. (Jandt, 2009) It then leaches into the clean drinking water thus posing health dangers to the users.

There were also suggestions regarding the transport needs whereby local manufactory of the bottles would at least reduce excessive fuel consumption through transportation. Other concerns have a basis on the quality of water. This has led to a lot of research to compare the tap water or filtered water to the bottled water.

The results are still tentative following counter accusations against companies such as the gigantic coca cola company on its water product ‘Dasani’. (Bouguerra, 2006) in line with Potera, (2002) the issue is thus still debatable also due to the pricing factors.

Environmental effects of bottling water

On the issue of the environmental effects, the bottled water industries may be causing a lot of strain to the environment, but the proposed solutions seem to go against bottling water thus creating a tug of war between concerns of environmental damage and health issues relating to compromised quality of water.

Background information on the study

Plastic bottles

Oils and natural gases facilitate plastics manufactory. The classification of these sources of energy falls under the non-renewable sources of energy. Yearly manufactory of water bottles indicates a figure of million tons. The problem does not concern the manufactured but the manufacturing procedure and the depository methods as well.

The water bottles are made of substances that require less energy and thus release fewer emissions to the surroundings during the recycling process compared to metals or glass and this is the main reason why people should take the advantage of plastics. The process used to make the plastics is however toxic and causes severe effluence to the atmosphere and human health especially when the safety measures lack proper enhancements. (Keegan and Schlegelmilch, 2001)

Today the environment is facing a serious challenge whereby the plastics are not recycled and instead they face haphazard dumping all over. Plastics remain at the dumping sites for hundreds of years because they break down at a very slow pace and thus the reason why we need a controlled mechanism. For the above mention reasons then, it would be better to recycle other than keep producing now and then.


The issue of transportation of bottled water also causes high intoxication to the environment. Research shows that a quarter of the billions of liters of bottled water has its consumptions in other countries. (Bouguerra, 2006) Today the world is faced with the problem of global warming as a result if emissions to the atmosphere.

The transportation of the water leads to many fuel emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide globally. This poses the challenge of finding ways of limiting transportation, which lacks achievements to date. This is the main cause of the heated debate over the best quality water as an incentive for reducing the global consumption of bottled water.

The solution to environmental degradation

Considering tap water as a sustainable alternative to the bottled water or vice versa is not the distinguished solution to environmental degradation. The bottled water is not an exemption to periodical pollution; thus; the experts would not consider it as energy resourceful over the tap water.

Although a basic right, access to clean water seem a privilege to many people especially those in developing countries and thus the need for the bottled water. Most of the sources of clean quality tap water face pollution with plastic bags and containers in these countries. Protection of the streams, rivers or other wetlands ensures efficacy in supplies of good quality and clean water at fair prices. (Potera, 2002)

Key points of preservation entail reduced consumption, reuse bottles, and recycling the bottles. If we all undertook these important and responsible choices, then the pollution rate would greatly reduce. The issue is not solvable through abandoning one source for the other. (Golub, 2001)

Global impact of consumption of the bottled water

According to Jandt (2009), UN research indicates that one person for every six lacks access to clean water. The UN prediction is that by the year 2025, two-thirds of the worlds’ populace will not have access to adequate clean drinking water. The best solution sighted by most governments includes privatization of the water supply corporations.

This would be a great mistake considering that most of the corporations involved will view it as a great opportunity to make mega profits over a basic need. The water crisis would be the companies’ economical opportunity. It would make the water a precious and scarce commodity playing a great role over a country’s economy.

For the countries, which have the integration of private corporations taking over the government in the issue of water management, people experience an increase in prices? In developing countries, these corporations rip off people. Despite their search for solutions, the poor countries suffer on the hands of the international corporations who sell profitably to them.

One would wonder how non-professional people could be able to address the issue of privatization of the water corporations. There is an urgent need to inform people and ensure they understand the fundamental principals of life independence to the water. The main principals governing supply and demand for water include an understanding that the intrinsic significance of fresh water overrides its commercial value or price. This intrinsic value requires protection from the government, political, commercial and social institutions.

Secondly, people have to understand that the water on the earth’s surface belongs to all living beings, meaning animals and plants of all existent species. This means that the owner is a public one as opposed to a privately owned commodity traded for profit.

Lastly, the water ownership requires consideration as “a shared legacy, a public trust, fundamental human right and thus a collective responsibility” (McKinney et al., 2007)

If such awareness campaigns were possible, then the public would be in a position to address the issue of privatization in a better way and for an evaluation based on the consumption of the globally bottled water.

Research reports indicate that in the year 2002, “the worldwide annual sales of nearly six billion gallons of the bottled water for the U.S. were more than thirty-five billion dollars”. This translates to approximately 1.5 million dollars ton of plastic bottles. Some of the giant stakeholders of the product include the “Coca Cola Co, Nestles, Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble & Danone” and this business is growing at an alarming rate due to the profit margins involved. (Bouguerra, 2006)

For the environmental effect, the people are searching relentlessly for more sources of the now commonly referenced as “blue gold”. The amount of tankers involved in transportation is growing to huge numbers day by day in the aim of maximizing profits.

Study indicates that only a ninth of the used plastic bottles are recycled. The rest face is dumping into the woods, roadsides, seascapes, streams or rivers. These decay-resistant materials clog the landfills, thus causing intoxication through leaching.

While the demand for recycling the plastics remains very high, there is a very low rate of recycling. In relation to McKinney et al’s writing, (2007) the ‘Beverage Marketing Corporation’, indicated the per capita consumption of bottled water as steadily growing from an initial “10.5 billion gallons in 1993 to 22.6 billion in 2003.” The problem is that consumption of this bottled water often occurs away from the home setting where the opportunity to recycle is almost zero.

Suggested strategies

The governments have been under pressure from the concern individuals and non-governmental organizations to implement a bill to control recycling. The Recycling institute presses for a national wide law, which is a concern for many people especially the environmentalists.

The law ought to push for regulation over depositing of the water bottle in which case would most likely reduce the cost for the taxpayers who have to pay for the cleanup of the poor disposals. The states with these ‘producer responsibility laws’ have seen great improvement with at least one in every five bottles being recycled.

The heated debate speculates the change of cost from the government or the taxpayer to a direct cost impact among the consumers and producers. The opposition over the law is strong where even beverages production industries oppose a law implicating cost to the consumer. Having a hidden levy on the producer leads to burdening the consumer without necessarily a direct disclosure over the extra charges.

The best methods for enhancing plastic recycling today are through awareness campaigns over the impact of the plastics to the environment, creating responsiveness among consumers over home or business recycling initiative, enhancing the consumers with the latest news, and recycling methods regarding dealing with plastic wastes. (Keegan and Schlegelmilch, 2001)

While recycling plastic is analytically termed expensive, the debate that supports it should reflect the bright side of the outcome such as the litter-free environment and global friendliness. The depository law-governing people’s reactivity to plastics would work if people were to focus on the importance of recycling. (Keegan and Schlegelmilch, 2001) the utility provided by recycling to the society remains to be happy and healthy and better lives.

In line with Keegan and Schlegelmilch, (2001) other suggested measures revolve around the biodegradable plastic water bottles. The issue of biodegradation comes about because of people’s response over the need for recycling. The questions depicted regarding the biodegradable bottle focus on their safety and chances of contamination.

The bottles degrade under some special biological conditions such as; they have to be empty and under high heat and humidity for a while. They biodegrade within eight days of exposure to such conditions as opposed to the normal plastic bottles, which may take hundreds of years to degrade.

The issue of biodegradable bottle raises a heated debate due to the impact on the recycling companies. The biodegradable would end up destroying or contaminating the recycled plastics if mixed, thus rendering the recycling companies obsolete.

There is a very low response to educating the public on issues regarding plastics effects on the environment, thus the low support over their recycling. Arguably, the majority are aware of the dangers of damping, but ignorantly they turn their back on the need to carry the plastic to home recycling bin away from the park trash bin. Possibly the culture is within and does not seem to go. The authority can then consider other ways of enlightening and encouraging people to use biodegradable products instead.

As specified in this analysis earlier, the amount of energy required and the cost of recycling is excessively low, compared to the energy and cost of new manufactories. Also, this is a great basis in the fight to encourage biodegradable plastics over recycling.

In the analysis between energy and recycling, results indicate that recycling the metals such as six-pack recycled aluminum would save energy approximated to about five-mile car drive. A glass bottle saves energy that can light a bulb for four hours. One gallon plastic would save energy to light a bulb for eleven hours while one-foot newspapers save electricity that can heat a home for seventeen your. (Keegan and Schlegelmilch, 2001)

If people would consider these statistics and the effects of recycling to the environment compared to fresh manufactory as considered earlier in this paper, then the issue of campaigning for the need to recycle would never rise. Therefore, this means that people would never consider biodegradation contemplations.


People reaction to the need for recycling plastics is an eminent indication that cultural approach over life is a reality in the contemporary world. This lack of concern disappoints and worries due to the threats it pauses, especially over the future environment. Culturally, the intellectual behaviors determine the control over the effects of water bottles on the environment.

People’s acquaintances over the dangers poor dumps of plastics pose to determine the choices they make in connection to conservation. They ought to share knowledge concerning the environmental dangers created by plastic deposition so that they know how to respect nature.


Bouguerra, M. L. (2006). “Water under Threat”. Durbin, Ohio: Zed Books

Burman, S. (2007). “The State of the American Empire: How the USA shapes the World”. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Golub, C. (2001). “Liquid assets: Is bottled water really better than what’s on Tap?” Environmental Nutrition journal, 24 (9).

Jandt, F. E. (2009). “An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in a Global Community” (sixth Ed.). New York NY: Sage

Keegan, W. J. & Schlegelmilch, B. B. (2001). “Global Marketing Management: A European Perspective”. New York: Pearson Education.

McKinney, M. L., Schoch, R. M. & Yanavjak, L. (2007). “Environmental Science: System and Solutions” (fourth Ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers

Potera, Carol. (2002). “The price of bottled water. Environmental Health Perspectives”, 110 (2). Shermer, Michael. (2003). Bottled twaddle. Scientific American, 289 (1).