How many people consume bottled water globally?
The bottled water market globally is rapidly growing with approximately 600 million households consuming bottled water in 2022. That's more than 446 Billion litres of water per year or 1 million bottles per minute.
As a consequence, our oceans are literary swimming in plastic.
And despite initiatives around the world to reduce plastic waste, bottled water consumption continues to grow by 5% annually and is expected to reach a volume of around 515 Billion litres by 2027.
Why are people buying bottled water?
- These are the main reasons:
- Prefer the taste of bottled water
- Bottled water is convenient to carry and drink on the go
- Don’t like the taste of tap water due to chlorine and other content
- Concerns about the quality of tap water
- Healthier than carbonated soft drinks and other beverages that consumers were drinking before
- The availability of different flavours and types of flavoured water
Growth in the travel industry coupled with the expanding food service sector have also influenced the market growth. Some of the other factors include increasing population, rising disposable income, rapid urbanization, and premiumization.
Who are the main providers of bottled water?
The biggest brands include:
1. Coca-Cola Company (Dasani) is an American multinational beverage corporation and manufacturer, retailer, and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups, which is headquartered in Atlanta, USA. Their bottled water brands include Dasani, Ciel, Valpre, Glaceau Smartwater, and Vitamin Water ZERO. Total sales of bottled water in 2022 amounted to $4.6 Billion. Greenpeace estimates that Coca-Cola produced more than 110 billion plastic bottles in 2022 although this includes all beverages.
2. PepsiCo (Aquafina) is an American multinational food and beverage corporation, headquartered in Purchase, USA. Their main brand is Aquafina, which is sold globally. Sales revenues of bottled water in 2022 amounted to $4.5 Billion.
3. Nestlé used to be the the largest food company in the world but has sold off several of its businsses. Nestlé Waters is the water division of Nestlé. It owns 64 bottled water brands in multiple countries. Approximately 7% of all Nestlé sales are from bottled water. Sales revenues from bottled water alone amounted to $4.2 Billion in 2022. Some of its most popular water brands are PureLife (having the largest market share worldwide), Deer Park, Poland Spring, Acqua Panna, San Pellegrino, Perrier, springs, Water Park, and Waterline.
4. Danone is a French multinational food-products corporation based in Paris. Their water division represents about 15% of the company’s total sales ($3.9 Billion in 2022). The most popular water brands include Bonafont and Aqua.
5. Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. Ltd. Wahaha Water is one of the most recognized bottled water brands in China. Annual sales revenues in 2022 from bottled water amounted to $4.2 Billion.
These 5 brands are the most commonly found among bottles floating in the oceans as well.
But a lot of bottled water is also produced and sold by local retailers under their own brand names. E.g. Walmart, Tesco, and Carrefour have their own bottled water brands and so do retailers in e.g. India, China, and Indonesia. In many countries, these brands are bigger than the 5 big global ones mentioned above.
How many people worldwide drink bottled water?
The table below shows an estimate of the number of households primarily using bottled water for household consumption. The number of households also continues to grow in Asia, Africa, and Latin America due to population growth and reduced access to clean tap water.
* Households with access to electricity and water (WHO)
** Estimates based on population and bottled water consumption. Includes large replaceable water fountain bottles
How many plastic bottles does this add up to?
Assuming that each household consumes about 2 bottles per day on average this means 576 million x 365 = 210 billion bottles per year. This aligns pretty well with the estimate of a total of 480 billion plastic bottles consumed annually whereof 50% are water.
What proportion of plastic bottles get recycled?
This is a controversial topic as there is a big difference between reported collected bottles and actually recycled bottles.
A recent study in the UK found that less than half of the plastic bottles collected for recycling actually were recycled. Worldwide 95% of plastics produced in 2022 didn't get recycled according to Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
But it gets worse. Only a very small percentage of recycled bottles are used to make new bottles. Coca-Cola sources only 15% of its plastic from recycled material, while Nestle Waters uses just 17% recycled plastic.
About 6 billion pounds of plastic bottles get thrown away every year, and only about 30% of them are recycled, according to IBISWorld analyst Nate Gelman. Of that 30%, just one-fifth is processed to create fresh plastic bottles for use in food and beverage.
According to recyclingbin.com: “95% of plastic bottles in the U.S. end up in a landfill or incinerator. That averages to around 60 million plastic bottles ending up in landfills and incinerators every day”.
But if everyone recycles bottled water consumption would be ok?
Plastic waste is only part of the problem. For every gallon of water produced the filtering and production process consumes an additional 2 gallons.
In addition to this oil is used for the production and the production process plus the transportation of water around the world produces a huge amount of CO2. The only solution is to reduce the consumption of bottled water.
Conclusion about global water consumption
In summary, the current bottled water consumption is unsustainable in the short and long term. Consumers, bottled water brands, and governments need to take action now.
Consumers need to stop consuming bottled water other than for absolute necessity.
Governments must take an active role in providing better alternatives as well as regulation.
But change starts with each and every one of us saying no to plastic.
Here are 5 reasons to drink tap water.
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