There’s arguably no better business than the bottled water business in the United States. It’s basically just manufacturing bottles, filling and marketing them. There’s no recipe or major product development required and it’s a rapidly growing industry.
Bottled water sales climbed nearly 20 percent a quarter between 1993 and 2005, according to a recent article in the New York Times. They’re still growing in the high single digits every quarter.
But they shouldn’t be. Bottled water is no healthier than tap water, it’s more expensive and the plastic bottles are enormously wasteful.
Here are the facts about bottled water:
- It’s not better for you.
If bottled water were transported across state lines for sale it would be controlled by the Food and Drug Administration. However, 70 percent never crosses state borders and isn’t subject to any regulations.
Your tap water, on the other hand, is regularly inspected for bacteria and chemicals and is held to strict Environmental Protection Agency standards.
- Plastic water bottles will outlive your heirs.
Plastic water bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade.
- They don’t get recycled.
More than 80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as litter. Only PET bottles can be recycled. Most caps can’t be recycled and less than one in five plastic water bottles is recyclable.
- They use oil. Manufacturing, filling, transporting, marketing and selling plastic water bottles requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil in the U.S. every year. That’s enough to power 100,000 cars for a year.
- They’re unnecessary.
Metal and reusable plastic water bottles serve the same purpose of providing portable water. They’re ultimately much cheaper and usually easily refillable at public drinking fountains. Many schools, airports and other facilities even have special water-bottle filling stations.
Even as awareness about the worries concerning plastic water bottles grows, more people are buying bottled water.
Soda companies, which are seeing slipping sales resulting from bad press about obesity links, are starting to more aggressively market their bottled water products.
Bottled water sales are expected to surpass soda sales by 2020.