Bottle Water and Environment


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Bottle of water and the environment. Bottled water habit has a large environmental impact, including the amount of energy needed to make plastic bottles, fill out and send it to consumers who are hungry around the world.

A recent study break down how much energy is used in the process every step.

Water bottle that has a total approximate equivalent of 32 million - 54 million bottles of oil needed to produce useful energy to produce the amount of bottled water consumed in the United States in 2007, according to the study, listed in the issue of January-March of the journal Environmental Research. Of course, this is just one-third percent of the population of the United States that the overall energy consumed in a year.

In 2007, the last year in which global statistics are available, more than 200 billion liters of bottled water were sold worldwide, mostly in North America and Europe. The total amount sold in the United States alone that year (33 billion liters) on average for about 110 liters (nearly 30 gallons) of water per person, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation.

Since 2001, the U.S. bottled water sales have increased by 70 percent, far in excess of milk and beer. Only soda that have greater sales.

The energy required to produce bottled water is now very attractive, while many countries are seeking ways to reduce energy use and climate-related impacts.

Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a non-partisan research institute, and his colleague Heather Cooley Collegue just realized that no one does a thorough survey on the use of energy involved in the complete production cycle of bottled water, so they take on the task.

Plastic and transport

Energy use is broken down into roughly four parts of the production cycle: that used to make plastics and turn it into a bottle, to treat water, to fill and close the bottle, and finally to transport as well.

Energy used in many different phases, said Gleick.

Most plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). From a little grain of PET melted and fused together to create a mold bottles. According to Gleick and Cooley in 2007 is estimated about 1 million tons of PET used to make plastic bottles in the United States, with 3 million tons is used as a whole, the energy used to produce the total number of PET and the bottles were turned into the equivalent of about 50 billion barrels of oil.

(Some companies have shifted towards the use of lightweight plastic for their bottles, which reduces the amount of PET produced by about 30 percent and therefore will reduce the amount of energy needed them. The transition to lack of energy intensive plastic is slow though, and not all companies use it .)

The amount of energy involved in the first step is surprising Gleick: I do not know how much energy it takes to make plastics or change the plastic into a bottle, he told Live Science.

The energy required to treat water and basically less depending on how many treatments are used in water and does not account for most of the energy spent in production. Likewise, the energy used to clean, seal and label the bottle insert only about 0.34 percent of the energy that is built into the bottle itself.

Energy used to transport bottled water depends on how much water was shipped and what method of transportation used. Air cargo is the most expensive energy method, followed by trucks, cargo ships and rail shipments, in that order. A different study of the carbon footprint of wine also find details of energy use is for a method of transportation.

In their study, Gleick and Cooley used the example of various types of water delivered to Los Angeles: water produced locally and shipped by truck involved the least energy, followed by water sent by cargo ship from Fiji, with the water produced in France and shipped to cargo ships and trains have the highest energy costs.

Individual choice

Final tally of 32 million - 54 million barrels of oil, the total may be only about one-third percent of energy consumption in the United States, but can be considered as an unnecessary use of energy, Gleick said. (About three times as much oil will be required to produce a global amount of bottled water consumed).

This amount is 2,000 times more than it takes to make a water faucet, and we live in a country where we have very good tap water, Gleick said.

Gleick said that the purpose of this study is not to suggest that bottled water be banned, but to help consumers understand the impact of our choices. With information on the impact energy, we can choose to do different things as individuals, he added.

Understanding the cost of energy from this process also highlights the use of greenhouse gas emitting energy. Energy is a kind of first piece of the puzzle, said Gleick

That's what I think about bottled water and the environment.


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