Environmental Impacts of Tap vs. Bottled Water

Lead Author: Dr. Jim Bowyer

Publish date: 09.10.2018

 

Dovetail Partners Consuming Responsibly Report No. 1

 

Executive Summary

 

The systematic assessment of environmental impacts of tap and bottled water systems consistently show that bottling of water, transport, and disposal of bottles after use result in a wide range of adverse impacts that far exceed those linked to tap water. Continuing expansion of bottled water sales are a curiosity, since drinking water from municipal water systems (tap water) is reliably safe all across the United States and many other nations. Bottled water has been found to be no safer than tap water, and in some regions of the U.S., less reliably safe. Moreover, taste test results suggest that people cannot consistently distinguish between different brands of bottled water, or between tap and bottled water. We conclude that consumption of bottled water, outside of a public health or emergency situation, has a disproportionately high environmental impact in comparison to safe tap water sources. A reduction in the consumption of bottled water would reduce consumer expenses and significantly benefit the environment.