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Consumers Made Bottled Water the No.1 Packaged Beverage

Liters of Water Used to Make 1 Liter of Bottled Water - the lowest water use ratio of any packaged beverage

Industry Water Use

The bottled water industry supports comprehensive water use and water management policies that treat all users equitably.

Bottled water is America’s favorite packaged beverage—for the fifth year in a row. That’s great news—because it shows that consumers are putting their health first and opting for healthy hydration over other packaged beverages that are harder on the body (because they contain sugar, caffeine, etc.) and harder on the environment (because they use more resources to produce).

Any discussion of the bottled water industry’s water use should include these facts:

  • While it has sometimes been likened to tap water, bottled water achieved its position as the No.1 packaged beverage in the United States by enticing consumers away from other packaged beverages like soda and fruit drinks.
  • While the health benefits of choosing bottled water over less healthy, sugar-sweetened beverages (like sodas and fruit drinks) may be obvious, the positive impact on the environment may be less apparent. The fact is that bottled water production uses less water and less energy than the production of those other packaged beverages. In fact, bottled water has the lowest water- and energy-use ratios of all packaged drinks.
  • To create 1 liter of finished bottled water product for consumption, water bottlers only use (on average) 1.39 liters of water (and that includes the 1 liter of water that you drink) and 0.21 mega joules of energy. (For more, review the 2018 IBWA Water and Energy Use Study.)
  • Even the production of 16.9 oz PET bottled water containers uses less water than producing other, same-size packages like aluminum cans, beverage cartons (packaging often constructed using paperboard, polyethylene plastic, plant-based plastic, and aluminum), glass bottles, and even PET soda bottles.
  • Although both use PET plastic, bottled water containers are more efficient water users in container manufacturing because they can be thinner (need less plastic). PET soda bottles use more PET plastic due to their carbonation and/or bottling processes.
Water Use

The amount of water used for bottling water in the United States is very small — less than 0.01% of the total groundwater withdrawn each year.

Minimal Water User

Water Use and
Bottled Water Production

The amount of water used for bottling water in the United States is very small — less than 0.01 percent of the total groundwater withdrawn each year. While that figure may vary slightly by location, the amount of water used for bottled water is only a small fraction of overall water use in any state.

To put it in context, the entire U.S. bottled water market was about 15 billion gallons in 2020. In contrast, the city of Los Angeles goes through that amount of tap water in 10 weeks.

In addition, most of the bottled water that comes from a state’s water sources is sold in that state. In fact, the vast majority of bottled water companies in the United States use local water sources and distribute their products to nearby towns and states.

Bottled water is 100% intended for human consumption. However, less than one-half of 1% of tap water is drunk by humans.

how much do you know about the bottled water industry’s water use?

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