The findings of a peer-reviewed study of tap water, bottled water and other beverages indicate tap water has the lowest environmental impact, based on a life-cycle analysis.
The study, released earlier this month, was conducted by life-cycle-analysis firm Quantis International of Salem, Mass., and commissioned by Nestlé Waters North America Inc. in Greenwich, Conn., the leading bottled water company in North America.
The climate impact of the single-use bottled beverages ranges between roughly two and five times that of the non-bottled options, such as tap water, both filtered and unfiltered, said the report.
But the report also concluded that sports drinks and vitamin-fortified water produce 50 percent more carbon dioxide per serving than both the single-use EcoShape 17-ounce water bottle and the 3-liter water bottle from Nestlé Waters.
The EcoShape bottle and 3-liter bottle perform better than the generic bottled water [studied], which performs better than the vitamin waters and sports drinks in part because of its lower weight and the shorter distances that they travel in the distribution network, according to the study.
The study also said its analysis indicated that 140 grams of greenhouse gas are produced to make a single-use EcoShape water bottle, compared with 160 grams for other typical brands and 250-260 grams for sports drinks and enhanced vitamin-enhanced waters.
The study also found that 70 percent of consumers said that if bottled water were not available as an option they would drink another type of bottled beverage, not tap water.
This report indicates that bottled water bans can be counterproductive from an environmental perspective, said Alex McIntosh, director of corporate citizenship at Nestlé Waters. McIntosh said research shows that more than two-thirds of consumers would drink other packaged beverages like soft drinks and juices, which often have more impact on the environment than bottled water.
He also said the study's findings confirm that Nestlé Waters' initiatives such as reducing plastic in our bottles, taking a regional approach to distribution and advocating for comprehensive recycling are the right strategies for our business and for the environment.
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