Bottled Water is NOT the Solution

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1 Bottled Water is NOT the Solution A presentation by NJ Environmental Federation & Clean Water Fund August 2008 Artist Chris Jordan s new photographic series, Running the Numbers, An American Self Portrait ( ), puts a very visceral spin on the statistics of waste. 1

2 PLASTIC BOTTLES Depicts two million plastic bottle beverages, the number used in the US every five minutes Problems of Bottled Water Waste & Toxicity Water Safety, Depleted Water Resources Energy Consumption Cost Corporate Control 2

3 Waste In 2006, 900,000 tons of plastic was used to package 8 billion gallons of bottled water in the U.S. Instead of getting recycled, 86% of plastic water bottles ends up clogging landfills. In the U.S., more than 30 billion plastic water bottles end up as garbage or litter each year. Incineration: Produces toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals. Buried water bottles: Takes up to 1,000 years to decompose and contribute to the vast vortex of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Source: Container Recycling Institute North Pacific Garbage Patch 3

4 The Trash Food Chain What happens to your plastic bottles or any plastic that you throw away? You may be eating it! The North Pacific Garbage Patch is is the largest landfill on Earth and has the most plastic trash anywhere. And it's growing! The area is infested with bits of plastic, which doesn t biodegrade, it photodegrades, a process in which plastic is broken down by sunlight into smaller pieces. There is a shocking 6 to 1 ratio of plastic to plankton, a main source of food for the marine animals. The Trash Food Chain: About 80% of trash in our oceans comes from land and river runoff. Plastic breaks down and gets eaten by small fish. The small fish get eaten by bigger ones. And eventually we eat the fish. Scientists have linked this to numerous public health problems. Some estimates say there could be as much as 100 million tons of waste floating in our oceans. Plastic Soup Juvenile turtles can easily mistake plastic waste for food 4

5 Waste & Toxicity Production of plastic leads to the release of a variety of chemicals. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most common, generating more than 100 times more toxic emissions than an equivalent amount of glass. (Source: Berkeley Ecology Center). There are regulatory standards limiting phthalates (linked to birth defects) in tap water, but no legal limits for bottle water. The bottled water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a limit. Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility). Phthalates are being phased out of many products in the U.S. and European Union over health concerns. Bisphenol A: In 2000, Consumer Reports found that 8 of the 10 five-gallon jugs we checked left residues of the endocrine disruptor, bisphenol A, in the water. Low doses of bisphenol A has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and reproductive and neurological development. Water Safety Bottled water is no safer than tap water. NRDC 4-year study of 103 brands of bottled water found that 1/3 contained chemical contaminants, including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic at levels above strict state limits. These contaminants could cause cancer or other health problems if consumed over a long period of time. 25% of bottled water sold is simply re-processed/used municipal water. The biggest water bottle sellers, both Aquafina from Pepsi-Cola Company and Dasani from The Coca-Cola Company are reprocessed from municipal water systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulates standards for tap water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates standards for bottled water. USEPA standards are more stringent. FDA rules completely exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same state, which account for between 60 and 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the U.S. FDA exempts carbonated water and seltzer. 5

6 Depleted Water Resources Withdrawal of large quantities of water from springs and aquifers for bottling has depleted household wells in rural areas, damaged wetlands, and degraded lakes. Water bottlers also take it directly from our public tap water systems more than ¼ of bottled water sold comes from municipal supplies. Depletion of water resources will continue unless we lower consumption of bottled water. In 2004, the total global consumption of bottled water was 41 billion gallons, a 57% increase since Drying Up Water Supplies The local effects of bottled water are of growing concern in communities with large bottled water plants tapping into local aquifers. Large commercial bottlers are trying to meet growing demand for their product and are projecting large increases in coming years. Perrier's Zephyrhills facility have requested to increase their pumping from a spring on a private ranch in central Florida by 600% in the next 10 years. The request was denied by a judge ruling that the pumping could dry up Tampa Bay kitchen sinks, some 37 miles downstream. 6

7 America s s Dirty Little Oil Secret As much as the oil companies, a growing global economy and wars are to blame for the oil price increases consumer consumption of plastic products is also a culprit in keeping oil prices high and environment issues shaky. PET (most common plastic used to create water bottles) is derived from fossil fuels typically natural gas and petroleum. The energy required to make PET plastic is phenomenal. In the U.S. alone, bottled water production requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year. Bottling water production also burns massive quantities of fossil fuels through its transportation, creating more than 2.5 million tons of CO2 per year. Source: Pacific Institute Your Money Down the Drain The bottled water industry promotes bottled water as a healthy, trendy drink, without mentioning it is often no healthier than tap water, but it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $10 per gallon, bottled water costs more than gasoline. 7

8 Corporate Control Public concern about tap water is at least partly responsible for the growth in bottled water sales, which have tripled in the past 10 years. This bonanza is also fueled by marketing designed to convince the public of bottled water s purity and safety. As a result, people spend from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than for tap water. Profit The global soft drink and bottled water manufacturing industry is expected to produce revenue of $146.5 billion in 2008, with growth projected to continue at a rate of four percent, with the U.S. at its forefront, producing revenue of an estimated $168.6 billion by Purified water is currently the leading global seller, with U.S. companies dominating the field. The U.S. is the largest consumer market for water the world, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil. 8

9 False Advertising FDA rules allow bottlers to call their product spring water even though it may be brought to the surface using a pumped well, and it may be treated with chemicals. The source is not always made clear some companies mislead, implying the water comes from pristine sources when it does not. 9

10 Water Privatization Bottled water corporations treat water as a private commodity from which to profit by selling water at the market place, rather than as a human right that must be universally available at prices all people can afford. Many groups believe the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend. Public water systems have been one of the great equalizers in societies around the world. But the U.N. estimates that if current trends continue (corporations exercising power to secure access to springs, aquifers, and municipal water supplies), by 2025 more than 2/3 of the world s people won t have access to clean water. Tap Water Filters The real long-term solution is to make tap water safe and affordable for everyone. However, if you have concerns, you can purchase filters. Make sure they are certified by NSF International (800 NSF-MARK). Before buying a filter get your tap water tested and read your right-to-know annual drinking water report. You can test the water yourself, but it can be pricy. Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline ( ) for a list of state-certified drinking water laboratories. 10

11 Take Action! Avoid using bottled water unless absolutely necessary. Drink from reusable metal or glass containers. At public events and at home, offer pitchers of water. Ask your municipality not to provide bottled water, except in emergencies. Talk to your favorite restaurants about not offering bottled water. Advocate for adequate funding and good public management of municipal water systems. Visit Join with NJEF to advocate for strict state and local groundwater laws to protect aquifers and other water resources. Visit Start Your Own Bottled Water Campaign! San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order banning city departments from buying bottled water, including water coolers. This went into effect July 1, The mayor argues against the sale of a product that is generally considered inferior to the quality of San Francisco tap water 11

12 Write a Letter! Write to your members of Congress, the FDA, and your governor and urge them to adopt strict requirements for bottled water safety, labeling, and public disclosure. Specifically, ask them to: Set strict limits for contaminants of concern such as arsenic, heterotrophic-plate-count bacteria, E. coli and other parasites and pathogens, and synthetic organic chemicals such as phthalates ; Apply the rules to all bottled water whether carbonated or not and whether sold intrastate or interstate; and Require bottlers to display information on the labels about the levels of contaminants found in water, the water s exact source, how it s been treated, and whether it meets health criteria set by the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control for killing parasites like cryptosporidium. Ask members of Congress and Governors to pass legislation providing the resources for the FDA and state regulators to actually enforce the law. Contact Info Food and Drug Administration Andrew C. von Eschenback, M.D. Commissioner, U.S. FDA 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD Find your member of Congress: NJ Governor Corzine, PO Box 001, Trenton, NJ

13 Bottle Bill Bottle bills (also known as container deposit laws) are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage bottles and cans for recycling. The refund value of the container (usually 5 or 10 cents) provides a monetary incentive to return the container for recycling. Bottle Bills... Supply recyclable materials for a high-demand market Conserve energy and natural resources Create new businesses and jobs Reduce waste disposal costs Reduce litter The Michigan law requires reporting of containers sold and redeemed by bottlers and distributors. At 10, Michigan's deposit is the highest in the country and so is its recycling rate. More Info: Don t t Use Plastic Bags! Currently the U.S. consumes 100 billion plastic shopping bags in a year and worldwide consumption is estimated to be from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags a year. That is roughly 1 million plastic bags a minute being consumed and less than 1% is recycled. The oil cost? With the 100 billion bags consumed in America it takes 12 million barrels of oil a year. Taking that figure and applying it to worldwide consumption you come up with a figure around 60 million million barrels of oil a year to produce plastic bags. 13

14 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle In the U.S. where 100 billion plastic bags are consumed it is estimated that only 1 percent to 3 percent of the bags are recycled. This leaves the rest of the bags in our landfills. Anti-Plastic Bag Campaigns As of June 1, 2008, China placed a nationwide ban on plastic bags. China was previously the largest user of plastic bags in the world using around 37 million barrels of oil for their bags. Other countries such as Ireland and Uganda have banned plastic bags. In the U.S., similar measures are being seen in city and county governments. 14

15 Resources: Presented By: NJ Environmental Federation & Clean Water Fund 1002 Ocean Ave, Belmar, NJ Phone: ;

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