Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water

Posted on February 7, 2007 

Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water

We have tried to calculate the true cost of producing and transporting bottled water before, and have come up with just vague approximations, which did not take the production of the bottle into account. Over at Triple Pundit, Sustainability Engineer and MBA Pablo Päster has done a thorough and exhaustive study of the cost of bring a litre of Fiji Water to America. He starts with the production of the bottle in China, taking the bottle blanks to Fiji, and confirming that it takes more water to make the bottle than it actually holds. He then transports the bottle to the States by ship. Not even including the distribution in the States, the numbers are absolutely staggering.

In summary, the manufacture and transport of that one kilogram bottle of Fiji water consumed 26.88 kilograms of water (7.1 gallons) .849 Kilograms of fossil fuel (one litre or .26 gal) and emitted 562 grams of Greenhouse Gases (1.2 pounds).

Twenty-six times as much water used to make it than you actually drink. As much fuel to make it as there is water in the bottle. Staggering is an understatement.

But what makes buying bottled water worse than cigarettes, is that every bottle you buy is essentially not just at the expense of the environment, but also at the expense of another. You see, more than 50% of the bottled water brands out there simply purchase U.S. municipal reserve water (your tap water) and filter it before bottling it. Then they resell it to you for an average of $5/gallon. (Compare this to gas prices, and go buy that filter). But companies like Coke (Dasani), and Pepsi (Aquafina) have discovered that buying up the drinkable water from some third-world country, bottling their water source and shipping it to you to sell to the U.S., is less expensive than paying for water from the municipal reserve. And they’re buying up the ONLY drinkable water sources in some countries.

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