Hydrating is an essential element of life. How we hydrate is up for debate. Do we get our water from our morning soda, coffee, smoothies, food, the tap or bottled water? Over the past twenty years companies like Nestle, Coke, and Pepsi have invested in bottled water, recognizing that a growing health trend was around the corner. With potential losses of revenue brought about by people’s changing attitudes around sugar and soda, companies diversified to ensure their share of profits. Within that span of time bottled water has become a staple in many countries worldwide.
According to the International Bottled Water Association’s (IBWA) 2013 Market Report Findings, bottled water wholesale dollar sales first exceeded $6 Billion in 2000 and by 2012 they had more than doubled to reach $12.3 billion. In 2008 and 2009 the industry saw a 1.8% decline and 3.2% decline respectively. According to the same report China leads the world in absolute volume sales, followed by the US, while Mexico leads the per capita use. “Plastic bottled water packaging is preferred over glass in almost every country, with the exception of Germany, where recycling laws make a determinate impact on packaging trends,” IBWA’s 2013 Market Report Findings.
According to Vapur, a California based company that specializes in reusable water and hydration stations, 200 billion water bottles are consumed globally every year. The problem is that most reports put the recycling rate of plastic water bottles at 9%-20%. This means that billions upon billions of plastic water bottles are put into landfills or make their way to the planets waterways. Based on the fact that many less developed countries are also increasing their use of plastic water bottles and lack the infrastructure to recycle or deal with the waste, we should see an overall increase in waste worldwide. Most of it seems to make its way to one of the five gyres (currents in the ocean that coalesce to form garbage patches).
The plastic water bottle issue became so great that the US National Parks Service Director, Jonathan B. Jarvis enacted a policy four years ago that allowed the 408 Parks, National Monuments, and historic sites to ban bottled water so long as there were refilling stations or alternatives to the bottled water. Many of the parks installed water refilling stations and saw a reduction in waste. However, according to the Washington Post July 30, 2015 article, Parks Service to Big Water: No Federal funding for bottle water bans? We’ll find our own money, thanks, Pennsylvania Republican Representative Keith Rothfus added an amendment to the house appropriations bill to prohibit the Park Service from spending taxpayer money to implement any ban on sales of bottled water. The International Bottled Water Association was behind the lobbying effort.
The response from the Park Service has been that they will have to find the money from other places, if it is not coming from the government. There is a demand and a political will to increase people’s options, as it has to do with water consumption.
Over the past few months, I have been encouraged that more and more universities, junior colleges, high schools, and even elementary schools have begun to install water refilling stations. Friends of World Progress Now are sending pictures of these hydration stations in airports and schools. World Progress Now’s mission is to implement and install these water refilling stations worldwide. Help us to reduce plastic waste and hydrate people around the world.