Tap water from POU water dispensers versus water from the bottles — Convincing findings and low costs due to the purchase of a water dispenser
In contrast to water dispensers with a fixed water connection, bottled water has long conquered the market. How is that even possible when, by purchasing a water dispenser once, you save many times the costs associated with ordering bottled water repeatedly?
We see bottled water in supermarkets, train stations, fitness centers and anywhere else where you can quickly squeeze in a refrigerator. We have become accustomed to this because we believe that plastic bottled water is safe. Most of us pick up the bottle without even thinking about what the consequences are. Quite the contrary, we think we are living healthily enough and that is what counts. We can hardly imagine whether the environment is polluted by almost exactly 600 times more due to our use of the bottle — but that's exactly how it is.
An ever increasing pile of plastic bottles is finding a permanent home in our rivers, lakes and oceans, from where they not only spoil the environment, but also disturb and thus damage marine animals and plants. Disposal would therefore be a big problem. But what about production? Why is plastic bottled water 600 times more harmful than public water dispensers?
Read on because we've got an eye-opening surprise for you.
While many of the negative effects of plastic bottles on the environment are visible, the carbon footprint resulting from plastic production, bottling, transportation and end-of-life disposal or recycling is not as obvious.
If you search on the Internet, you'll find a wide variety of articles on the subject. Most are either highly academic or only related to one study. Some of them are published by the mineral water industry and therefore do not necessarily have to be entirely objective. But it can of course also be pure charity for nature and people that the GWCA and the association VDM are fighting for an increased BPA content in plastic bottles. Other items come from glass bottle manufacturers who have a completely different opinion — perhaps out of sheer malice, or which type of packaging makes more sense for you with common sense?
Water from piped drinking water dispensers versus bottled water
The fundamental difference between bottled water and tap water from a water dispenser lies in the packaging or not packaging, the selection, the price and the source. The tap water that is made available to a community comes from a surface or groundwater source, which is dispensed for consumption by a fixed water dispenser. The citizens of the municipality have neither the choice nor the opportunity to choose an alternative if they wish, for whatever reason. However, you get plenty of clean water at an extremely low price, as tap water is the most heavily controlled food in Germany. While consumers pay much more for bottled water, they can choose from a variety of options based on criteria they think are important, such as source, type, producer, or taste.
For those of you who like to see it in figures:
Tap water produces 0.35 g CO₂ per liter in its treatment. Compared to plastic bottled water, which produces approx. 200 g CO₂ per liter.
If you extrapolate this to the consumption of the German population, the difference to water from a water dispenser is three million tons of CO₂ per day compared to bottled water. And who can imagine what three million tons of CO₂ actually are? — The carbon footprint left by German citizens by drinking mineral water exceeds domestic German air traffic 1.5 times.
Once you know these figures and let them work in, it is difficult to live on in “ignorance” and continue to pick up the bottle habitually, when you can contribute to a cleaner environment with every glass of water that comes from a bottled water plant.
Even the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote of a recent study which found that
“For the life cycle of still mineral water compared to drinking water from the tap, 586 times starting emissions. ”
A rather sobering statement that should actually no longer make it difficult for consumers to pause for a moment before reaching for the bottle to consider whether a glass of tap water could also serve its purpose instead.
Recent estimates of CO₂ emissions from bottled water have led to higher values than before. This means that the problem is even bigger than it was estimated.
In 2018, approximately 480 billion Consumed plastic bottles with an average size of 1 liter. This means that the CO2 footprint was between 67 billion and 192 billion kg of CO₂ per year. That is the equivalent of up to 74 million cars.
The total annual CO₂ footprint of a nation like Greece was 72 billion kg in 2017, and in the Netherlands it was even 175 billion kg.
Or a third of the entire aviation industry (543 billion kg)
And that's just part of the bottled water problem. Other problems, as we mentioned at the beginning, include plastic pollution, including microplastics, water waste and the origin of the water.
The bottom line
There are only a few arguments as to why we should continue to disdain water from a drinking water well or water dispenser or perhaps even regard it as of inferior quality. The carbon footprint and the associated environmental pollution concerns us all. Everyone can contribute to a healthier environment. One glass of water from the bottled water plant after another.