New research from the Pacific Institute estimates that bottled water is up to 2000 times more energy-intensive than tap water. Similarly, bottled water that requires long-distance transport is far more energy-intensive than bottled water produced and distributed locally. Indeed, when all the sums were done, it seems the annual consumption of bottled water in the U.S. in 2007 required the equivalent of between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil?roughly one-third of a percent of total U.S. primary energy consumption.
The article, ?Energy implications of bottled water? by
researchers Peter H. Gleick and Heather Cooley, is the first peer-reviewed
analysis of its kind and appears in the February 2009 edition of Environmental Research Letters.
bottled water use continues to expand around the world, there is growing
interest in the environmental, economic, and social implications of that use,
including concerns about waste generation, proper use of groundwater, hydrologic
effects on local surface and groundwater, economic costs, and more. But a key
concern is how much energy is required to produce and use bottled water,? said
article co-author Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. ?It turns
out the answer is, a lot.?
The authors note that a single estimate of the
energy footprint of bottled water is not possible due to differences among water
sources, bottling processes, transportation costs, and other factors. Gleick and
Cooley calculate the energy requirements for various stages in bottled water
production, including the energy to manufacture the plastic bottles, process the
water and the bottles, and transport and cool the final product.
bottled water and energy consumption from Gizmag.com