Bottled water is healthy, or so marketers would have us believe. Just look at the labels or advertisements — pristine pools of spring water, majestic alpine peaks and people drinking bottled water after a trip to the gym.
In reality, most bottled water is just water from the kitchen tap. That fact isn’t stopping people from buying it. It has been estimated that worldwide bottled water sales stands at between US$50 billion and US$100 billion (RM213 billion and RM427 billion) each year, with the market expanding at a startling annual rate of seven per cent.
Bottled water is big business. But in the long run, it is wasteful and distracts the construction and maintenance of safe public water systems. Many of us do not realise that a litre of bottled water is almost the same price as a litre of petrol.
One may argue that “it is my money, therefore I can do whatever I want with it”. But bottled water means garbage — tonnes of it to be exact.
According to research, plastic drinking bottles require up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle drinking water is of high quality and is in demand by recyclers, more than 80 per cent are thrown away. Because of its slow decay rate, most of it still exists somewhere.
Plastic waste is at such a volume that satellite images have shown huge bodies of plastic waste in the world’s major oceans. This is a great threat to marine life that mistake plastic for food.
In the old days, I remember that a deposit of five sen for a small glass bottle and 10 sen for a big glass bottle were collected at the point of sale. The money would be returned if the bottle was sent back to the participating shops or the price of the next bottle would be offset when the bottle was returned.
It’s time our government had such a mechanism in place.
n LIONEL PERERA, Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan