Bottled Water

May 30, 2008

by Nancy Nashed

Bottled Water, the production, and consumption, has become a very serious issue, affecting the environment more than most people realize. Below is a summary of how serious this has become, followed by a suggestion to purchase a reusable water bottle, and 2 recommended companies where you can find exactly the right bottle for your specific needs.

Read on to find out how the water bottling industry is dealing with the frightening numbers as well.


Pouring Resources Down the Drain

Emily Arnold and Janet Larsen

The global consumption of bottled water reached 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004, up 57 percent from the 98 billion liters consumed five years earlier. Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing—producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline.

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of bottled water, with Americans drinking 26 billion liters in 2004, or approximately one 8-ounce glass per person every day. Mexico has the second highest consumption, at 18 billion liters. China and Brazil follow, at close to 12 billion liters each. Ranking fifth and sixth in consumption are Italy and Germany, using just over 10 billion liters of bottled water each. (See data.)

Fossil fuels are also used in the packaging of water. The most commonly used plastic for making water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil. Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year.* Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.

Kleen Kanteen: The Stainless Steel Alternative to Plastic

Our reusable, lightweight, non-leaching & toxin-free 18oz stainless steel bottle, also known as the Kid Kanteen, is designed for small hands and comes with your choice of a loop, flat or sports drinking cap made from safe, non-leaching polypropylene (pp#5). Weighs 6 ounces.

Product Features

• safe alternative to plastic and lined metal containers

• high-quality food grade 304 L.N. stainless steel

• durable, lightweight, reusable and 100% recyclable

• slim design fits most cup/bottle holders

• non-leaching & toxin-free

• no inner lining, clean tasting

SIGG Swiss Engineered Water Bottle

Choose from all the SIGG water bottle designs available, select the lid and accessories you like and create a SIGG that matches your style. Afterall, it’s not what you drink, it’s what you drink it in.

SIGG combines 100 years of Swiss quality & craftsmanship with a fresh, fun perspective on contemporary style – delivering a water bottle with both function AND fashion!

Plus using a premium reusable bottle like SIGG greatly helps reduce unnecessary environmental waste caused by plastic PET water bottles. Sadly, Americans add over 30 million plastic water bottles to our nation’s landfills – everyday!

While not everyone is ready to purchase a hybrid vehicle, we believe every little bit helps. And thinking “reusable” instead of “disposable” is a great place to start. So, Rise Above Plastic – and consider the advantages of hydrating with a SIGG.


Extruded from a single piece of aluminum, our innovative SIGG Lifestyle Water Bottles is surprisingly rugged, crack-resistant and completely reusable and recyclable. A ground-breaking interior lining is 100% effective against leaching and combats residue build-up, so your SIGG Lifestyle Bottle is easy to clean and ensures that all you taste is the water, juice or the energy drink that you just poured into the bottle, even after its been sitting in the Sun!


lightweight, durable, eco-friendly, leak-proof water bottle in a subtly, sophisticated style. Extruded from a single piece of aluminum and coated with a patented secret formula liner, this water bottle will not leach anything harmful into your beverage. It will not give your beverage any plastic taste or overtone.


Independently tested and declared The World’s Toughest Water Bottle, our SIGG-brand sports bottles are lightweight and extremely durable. A noted favorite of professional athletes and active folks alike! These reusable aluminum bottles will fit most cup holders & bike cages and our active bottle top makes drinking on the go leak-proof and easy! This eco-friendly bottle has a special leach-proof lining that will keep your beverage fresh and the taste pure long after the marathon or spin class.

Our SIGG Thermal Bottle Collection brings you the best double walled insulated bottles and Metro Mugs on the market. Fill them with the steamy soup or beverage of your choice. Our stylish, eco friendly and reusable thermal bottles and mugs are engineered to be the absolute best money can buy. Designed by the Swiss company Sigg, our insulated bottle and mug collection keeps your hot beverages, like coffee – super hot for up to 6 hours, or your iced drinks cold for up to 10 hours…really!

What’s going on in the Bottled Water Market:

Water Bottles Slim Down

It’s not uncommon for bottled-water companies to tout the purity of their waters. But one giant bottler has gone one step further: boasting about the bottles themselves.

Nestlé claims it offers the lightest half-liter bottles in the U.S. market. Earlier this year, it introduced new, sculpted bottles with labels stating they contain “30% less plastic.” On Web sites for its brands Poland Spring, Ozarka, Arrowhead and Ice Mountain, Nestlé clarifies that this isn’t a 30% reduction from the old model, which is still in distribution; instead, its new “Eco-Shape Bottle” has 30% less plastic “than the average half-liter bottle.”

The Eco-Shape Bottle To achieve these savings, Nestlé redesigned its bottles with what Nestlé spokeswoman Jane Lazgin called a “pinched waist.” That combines with ribs that are vertical and angled rather than horizontal, to create a “spring-like mechanism” that keeps the lighter bottle from being crushed when in transit, Ms. Lazgin said.

But how much lighter is the bottle? It weighs 14% less than its 14.5-gram predecessor. Nestlé is basing the 30% claim on a comparison with competitors it commissioned this spring from the market-research company Tragon. At my request, Nestlé shared a summary of that report. And taken on its face, the report does support the company’s claim of 30% less plastic than the average half-liter bottle. But there are a number of caveats: The 30% claim holds up when the Eco-Shape Bottle is compared with bottles containing all sorts of beverages, yet carbonated beverages are heavier by design, to seal in the CO2. When the competitive field is limited to just water bottles, the bottle falls slightly short of the 30% claim, and the comparison is skewed by a few especially heavy competitors — some of whose manufacturers say they’ve lightened their bottles since the study was conducted.

In March and April, Tragon bought half-liter bottles in 12 markets for dozens of brands of water, sodas, flavored water drinks and other beverages. Auditors emptied them, discarded the cap and sent them to a central lab for weighing. The results: Water bottles’ mass ranged from a low of 12.26 grams for Nestlé’s Ozarka, using the Eco-Shape Bottle, to a high of 25.94 grams for Fiji Water’s boxy bottle; the mean of all bottles excluding Nestlé’s is 17.31 grams, making the Ozarka bottle 29% lighter. (The other bottles are 41% heavier, on average; that’s a quirk of percentages, similar to how a 20% sale means the original price was 25% higher than the discounted price.) The reduction is 23% when Eco-Shape is compared with the median of other bottles, a measure that minimizes the skewing effects of the heaviest bottles.

Nestlé isn’t the only water bottler to reduce plastic content, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in August — meaning the study may already be out of date. I contacted the makers of the four heaviest water bottles in the Nestlé study. Dave DeCecco, a spokesman for PepsiCo’s Aquafina, said the company hadn’t sold for five years a bottle that weighed as much as the 21.6 grams measured by Tragon. (Nestlé re-checked the numbers and stood by its 21.6-gram estimate, Ms. Lazgin told me.) Deja Blue has reduced its 23.8 gram bottles to 19 grams since the study, said Chris Barnes, a spokesman for Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. Scott Vitters, Coca-Cola’s director of sustainable packaging, said Dasani has begun replacing its 18.2-gram bottles with lighter ones weighing 13.8 grams. Meanwhile, Thomas Mooney, senior vice president of sustainable growth for Fiji Water Co., said he had “no factual issue” with the Tragon numbers, but noted that last month Fiji announced it would reduce the amount of packaging in its products by 20% in the next three years.

For the non-water drinks, none of the brands used a bottle that weighed less than 22 grams, so the Ozarka bottle was about 50% lighter than average — a justification for Ms. Lazgin’s claim that Nestlé’s estimate is “very conservative.” But that’s not a fair comparison, Coca-Cola’s Mr. Vitters told me, because a heavier bottle is needed to “retain the carbonation.” Ms. Lazgin said that’s partly the point: The message to consumers is, “if you’re going to choose a packaged beverage, if you choose bottled water, that’s the one that’s the most healthful, and the one that uses the least plastic.”

The other water companies also pointed out that the plastic content of their bottles isn’t the definitive measure of environmental responsibility. Fiji’s Mr. Mooney said his company’s block-shaped bottles pack in trucks more efficiently, meaning more water can be transported at once. And Mr. Vitters said Coca-Cola strives to balance the size of its bottles with the amount of packaging needed to protect the bottles in shipment. Ms. Lazgin said the Eco-Shape Bottles require no additional packaging.

Then again, tap water uses the least plastic of all, even if municipal water works don’t tend to advertise that fact.


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