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water bottles

Where do we start? Okay, put your hand up if you are happy to pay 1,000 times over the cost for anything. No hands showing? Now put your hand up if you would buy a bottle of something down at the shops for $3.50 that you can get for free with no effort. No hands showing? Well our hands should be up – this is what millions of us do every day. How did this happen?

This is what we do with water in Australia. Australians spend over $500 million on bottled water every year. It has to be pumped out of the ground, packaged, transported and chilled before it gets to us. This creates over 60,000 tons of greenhouses gases a year in Australia alone. Do you think this is wasteful?

The manufacture and transport of the plastic bottles for all this water requires over 460,000 barrels of oil. Less than 40% of these bottles are recycled; the balance ends up in landfill or in our waterways.


Recycling just one bottle saves enough energy to power a television for 90 minutes. Recycling makes a big difference; the more we recycle the less raw materials we use.

When Australia was first introduced to bottled water in the late 1980s, we all thought it was a joke. Us Aussies would never be so foolish as to buy bottled water. Well, the joke is on us! In a triumph of marketing over reason we are being buying bottled water in droves!

Where does all this bottled water come from? Clean, peaceful rivers and bubbling mountain brooks as depicted on the bottles? Not so much. It’s mostly bore water pumped from the ground at almost zero cost.

Back to the tap!

beach rubbish 1

How about getting back to the tap? This is a growing movement that is gaining momentum – from Paris to San Francisco, to Melbourne, to big towns to tiny towns, to restaurants and to schools. Growing numbers of people are ditching bottled water and returning to the humble tap. Is this a radical move or simply the way forward?

In some places, bottled water is actually being banned, and instead people are being asked to bring a reusable container to the tap instead. Some are bringing back the old-fashioned glass or mug (if you haven’t seen one for a while, it’s a receptacle with a hole at one end that you fill up with liquid). Some even come with lovely designs or wacky slogans. Some of us feel we need filtered water, and there are a host of filter jug systems available or you can get a filter fitted to your kitchen tap.

Are you going to go back to the tap? Just remember, a simple change can make a big difference.

Bottled Water – Did you know?

* It takes up to seven litres of water and one litre of oil to produce one litre of bottled water.

* A recent News Limited taste test had 68% of us liking the tap water better than bottled water. Around 20% couldn’t pick a difference.

* Tap water has 1 per cent the environmental impact of bottled water.

* Bottled water production makes 600 times more CO2 than tap water.

* Australians spent more than $500 million on bottled water last year.


* One bottle of water has the same impact on our environment as driving a car 1km.

* Most water bottles end in landfill.

* Australians drank 115 Olympic swimming pools worth of bottled water last year.

* Discarded drink bottles account for 38 per cent of the total rubbish volume.

* The average cost of a litre of tap water in Australia .001¢

* The average cost of a litre of bottled water in Australia is $2.83

* The average Australian drinks 14 litres of bottled water per year.

* Australians buy 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles a year.

* It takes 8 years to recoup the cost of a bottle of water by refilling the bottle with tap water.

* Water bottlers (Coke & Schweppes) of Australia are fighting against legislation for a container deposit scheme. What? The system has worked very well in South Australia for 35 years. In 2008 the refund was increased from 5 cents to 10 cents and return rates jumped 20% from a good 70% to a brilliant 80%.

* Drink container recycle rates for the rest of Australia are less than 40%.

Want to learn more about Waste, Water and Consumption?