Bottled Water Con

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Bottled water has been described as "one of the greatest cons of the 20th century" and as "marketing's answer to the emperor's new clothes".

Health effects

While tap water contamination incidents must be reported promptly to the public, the same is not true for bottled water,
(see the list of more than 100 bottled water recalls)

In 22 percent of brands tested, chemical contaminants were found at levels above state health limits. Some of the contaminants found in the study could pose health risks if consumed over a long period of time.

Another study found that a high percentage of bottled water, contained in plastic containers, was polluted with estrogenic chemicals.

 Bottled water versus tap water

In a study comparing 57 bottled water samples and tap water samples, all of the tap water samples had a bacterial content under 3 CFUs/mL .  There were 15 water bottle samples containing 6-4900 CFUs/mL.

 In another study comparing 25 different bottled waters, most of the samples exceeded the contaminant level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for mercury, thallium, and thorium. Being exposed to these contaminants in high concentration for long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, and increase risk for pancreatic and lung disease.

Most bottled water manufacturers in the United States either add fluoride to their product or provide a fluoridated bottled water product. (Not required to put on the label).

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Fund argue that bottled water is no better than tap water, and emphasize the environmental effect of disposable plastic bottles.

The Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Demonstrated that diners could not discern between bottled water and water from a garden hose behind the restaurant.

Bottled water Environmental Impacts

90 percent of the cost of bottled water is bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, expenses and profit.

The Environmental suffers from groundwater extraction, energy used in plastic packaging, transportation costs,  water quality, all resulting from invalid marketing claims.

Packaging Bottled Water in Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), requires a significant amount of energy to produce. In the US, plastic used to create bottles uses an estimated 15 million barrels of oil annually.

Is Your Bottled Water Worth It?: Find Your Water

Bottled Water  

Bottled vs Cartoned water Environmental Impacts

Of the 50 billion PET(polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are consumed annually in the United States, approximately 30% are recycled, although that rate slightly increases each year.


Plastic industry trade groups respond with their usual mantra that plastic is lightweight, shatterproof, and convenient. The beverage industry also points out that of all bottled drinks, a 500ml bottle of water generates 111 grams of carbon during its entire lifecycle, lower than that of soft drinks.
The carbon footprint of an equivalent-sized Tetra Pak Prisma carton, however, stands at 50 grams even with the plastic top included.


A drastic difference also exists when evaluating the "water footprint" of plastic bottles and Tetra Pak cartons.
It takes anywhere between 1 to 2 litres to manufacture a 500ml PET bottle.
The water footprint for a 500ml Tetra Pak carton stands at 200 ml of water.


Tetra Pak carton can argue that the trees from which the cartons are made come from managed farms, and furthermore, those trees absorb carbon dioxide during their lifespan.

PET bottle promoters retort that the amount of fossil fuels consumed to make bottles is a sliver of the world's supply, and the recycling process is energy efficient.
If the comparison of BAGS (Plastic vs Paper) is equivalent?  Then there is considerably less energy used in the production of a plastic bottle vs a carton.

Tetra Pak cartons are only 74% paper; the rest, 26%, of the package contains aluminum and polyethylene. Recycling requires complex separation of the paper, ( not to mention the plastic cap).

As is the case with PET bottles, not all municipalities recycle Tetra Pak cartons, though the fault often lies with cities, not with packaging companies.

Furthermore, both PET and Tetra Pak cartons have come under scrutiny for their long-term health effects on consumers.

source The Guardian

Tetra Pak cartons are only 74% paper; the rest, 26%, of the package contains aluminum and polyethylene.

Milk Cartons & Aseptic Packaging can no Longer Be Recycled ( in many locations)

Aseptic Packaging

Think boxed liquid packaging like soy milk, wine, soups, juice and sauces; the kind of packaging that makes perishable items shelf-stable and pathogen free for up to one year without refrigeration.


Milk Carton

Sometimes referred to as gable-top cartons, these are your typical milk, cream or orange juice containers for refrigeration.


What Changed?

The recycling industry is constantly changing, but now the market for recyclables is nothing short of volatile. Impacted by world markets, new regulations, changes in standards itís difficult to keep up. Recent months have been characterized as a turning point, or paradigm shift, for the industry as a whole, especially for those regions (such as ours) that are heavily dependent on China or other Asian markets. Thereís too much market uncertainty and the industry is already grappling with sharply reduced commodity revenues, rising operating costs, a surplus of Mixed Paper and scrap plastics, and the imposition of much stricter quality standards for all other scrap imports.

At this point, itís not unusual for a material grade that was in high demand and fetched top-dollar a year ago, to be totally unsellable today. Unsellable is the key. You see, we (Mill Valley Refuse Service) collect your recycling and deliver it to a Materials Recovery/Reclamation Facility or MRF (pronounced ďmurfĒ) where those materials are sorted, prepared and sold to manufacturers for future production. If there isnít a market for the MRF to sell that material grade into, then that material will likely end up in landfill.

Thatís why itís so important that we only put into our recycling carts that which will actually end up being recycled.

Unfortunately, the processors we work with have told us that they will no longer be accepting aseptic packaging and other poly-coated cartons for recycling. While they used to accept this material grade, there are a few factors that led to them to change their policy:

1) It is very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to secure an order for this material grade. While this type of packaging is technically recyclable, the types of American paper mills that use this grade of paper are not located in all regions of the country and none are located on the west coast. The only alternative then, is to turn to China or other markets in Asia for the sale of this grade, and those customers are neither large consumers of this grade, nor is their demand for this grade consistent.

2) The volume of these items in the household stream of recyclables is very low in absolute terms and as a percent of total stream composition. Itís difficult to justify giving a lot of operational attention to an item with relatively low volume, inconsistent markets, and uncertain market value Ė especially in a challenging global market and rising cost environment. In addition, since the volume is so low, it often takes several weeks or even months to accumulate a full truckload. In that span of time, the baled cartons may develop mold and/or foul order, which also hampers marketability.

While we all want to divert material from landfills, at this point, there isnít another option for aseptic packaging, milk cartons, and other poly-coated cartons.
Please be sure to put these items into your trash.