Operation Water Pollution – Part 1

Water Bottles

One of the problems with bottled water is the bottle that the water comes in. These bottles can cause major problems in the environment and for the person drinking from them.

Making the bottles
Every year the US makes 2.7 million tonnes of plastic into water bottles. The plastic is made from a product called PET. Making 1 kilogram of PET uses 17.5 kilograms of water. So in order to make 2.7 million tonnes of plastic there is 47 million tonnes of water used. That’s enough water to fill 18 862 Olympic sized swimming pools! If you were to swim in one of those pools every day, it would take you almost 52 years to swim in the amount of water used to make water bottles in one year!! Click on Math for the calculations.

Water is not the only natural resource used to make the plastic water bottles. Oil is also used. In order to make all the water bottles for one year, the United States uses 20 million barrels of oil. That’s enough oil to fuel 100 000 cars!

Storing the bottles
When water sits in the bottles some of the chemicals from the plastic begin to leach into the water. A 2006 Canadian study found that after water bottles made with PETs had been stored for six months, there was a significant amount of antimony (a toxic chemical) found in the water.
There is also some concern about bisphenol A which acts like a synthetic hormone. There is concern about bottles made from PET leaching bisphenol A into the water. This dangerous chemical is currently being researched by the Canadian government to determine just how dangerous it can be.

Disposing of the bottles
Many people in Canada recycle their used water bottles. But there are an estimated 88% of bottles that end up in the trash instead of the recycling facility! Unfortunately the plastic bottles often end up in the landfills and often oceans. It takes sometimes thousands of years for the bottles to breakdown in landfills. In the oceans, the bottles react with the sun light and eventually break down into plastic pellets and are eaten by birds and fish. Eating the plastic kills the birds and fish. Sometimes the plastic does not break down at all. Some researches believe that plastic in oceans will stay there for thousands of years and may never break down completely.

The 12% of plastic that is recycled is often not used to make new bottles because it is too expensive to use. The recycled plastic is used to make things like fleece jackets, fiberfill pillows, carpet and many other products.

Bottled Water a Fact Sheet from the Safe Drinking Water Foundation People Magazine article “Banned! Top chefs just say not to serving bottled water – and yes to helping the environment”. July 16, 2007
Macleans Magazine article “Green Report: It’s so not cool” May 14, 2007
Bottled Water Basics – an EPA document on bottled water