The Sustainability of Bottled Water

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Water is a valuable resource that all living things including human beings require in order to survive. It is believed that the realities of the environment will soon hit us to an extent of making us change the behavior regarding the costly use of resources (Earle, 2009). The changes are most likely going to affect the manner in which we use water and hence cause alterations both in quantity and water usage. Privatization of water resources as well as selling of bottled water has sparked serious issues in the Western cultures regarding the use of and waste associated with disposable water bottles.

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In 2016 alone, about 500,000 disposable water bottles were bought on the University of Bentley. To ensure a more sustainable campus, these numbers need to be substantially lowered through encouraging students to make use of re-usable water bottles (Earle, 2009). Moreover, this report deliberates looking at the effects of bottled water sector and the reason a total restriction on disposable water bottles would be beneficial to the University of Bentley students, faculty not forgetting the staff.

The main objective of the project was to know water bottle usage and to implement the most efficient method of encouraging the students to embrace use of re-usable water bottle as opposed to buying bottled water. Additionally, the motivation for the project is the fact that a number of schools around University of Bentley have successful been in doing away with the sale of disposable plastic bottles. An assessment of what other institutions have done to deal with the menace has assisted in providing a classic example of what the University of Bentley needs to do in an attempt to implement a ban through the full support of the students. Cooperating with school leadership and food providers is significant in facilitating a proper switch to re-usable water bottles. Educational seminars and campaigns are also significant to increasing student support.

Through this research, the project required to comprehend the processes involved in the choice of bottled water as opposed to water in re-usable bottles, to investigate the social cultures and customs influencing water bottle conduct, to identify appropriate mechanisms to effect adjustment on water bottle behavior and come up with suggestions to facilitate student eco-friendly initiatives, to influence the leadership to reduce use of single-use water bottles while increasing use of re-usable bottles. The project targeted students through use of initial surveys to students who drink disposable bottled water to study their behavior and find out the reasons behind the behavior. Subsequent surveys done to them after students were equipped with information on re-usable water bottles assisted in determining the factors and methods that change bottled water behavior.

The University of Bentley Campus has been worried about the suitable sustainability initiatives on campus for a long period. Even the student population has expressed a lot of interest in disposable water bottle ban as well as doing away with the sale of bottled water. Thus, the idea of banning disposable bottles would be in welcome since it will auger well with the university’s mission of sustainability (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011). Some issues need to be addressed beforehand, yet information collected so far, a complete ban on the use of disposable bottles and the sale of bottled water is actually the most feasible alternative available for University of Bentley. Indeed, the accomplishment of sustainability movement in University of Bentley depends on dynamic behaviors which adversely affect the atmosphere. Through learning water bottle behavior as well as finding out the way to reduce use of disposable bottles, the University is able to be a more sustainable institution (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011).

Literature Review

The literature analysis conducted regarding the issue of disposable water bottles has led to an inescapable conclusion that bottled water sector causes contamination, increased cost, and is hazardous to health of users and the atmosphere at large. For instance, lots of toxic substances can be present in water bottles, including styrene and benzene. The bottled water companies only tap water and sells it to the market at high prices. To the bottled water companies, making fast profits is essential as opposed to safeguarding the health of the consumers.

Manufacture and supply of disposables cause pollution to the atmosphere and causes harm to locals. Substances in the disposable bottles percolate to water, making it harmful for consumption. Disposable bottles are responsible for many of the issues after disposal, leading to emergence of landfills or in the water bodies instead of being reprocessed for re-use. Disposable bottles are a major cause of hydration. Statistics indicate that about 28 billion disposable bottles are vended in US annually. This figure is increasing day after day. Inasmuch as this seems a comprehensive achievement in the economic atmosphere, it has numerous harmful effects in the sector.

According to Leonard Sax (Sax, 2009), bottles leach faster when incubated at higher temperatures. Whereas it is true few people heat water in disposable bottles beforehand, trucks which carry bottled water may go up to 140 points. Moreover, temperature in cars under the sun close to 6 hours can reach about 170 degrees. Therefore, as per the findings of Reimann, Birke & Filzmoser (2010), the heats in trucks are not very high to cause considerable leakage.

Birke & Filzmoser (2010) reached a conclusion that antimony is a toxin with substantial leaking. In Sax’s works, phthalates was debated in depth as opposed to antimony. The two articles were peer reviewed and disclosed that they had adequate information describing their study process. The weakness for his works is that it is not detailed on the methods employed in research (Sax, 2009). Nonetheless, Sax discusses a number of significant elements which impacted on the outcome of the studies on the quality of disposable bottles (Sax, 2009). For instance, not all polyethylene terephthalate, PET, are processed in a similar manner therefore cannot leach in a similar way as a given chemical (Reimann, Birke & Filzmoser, 2010). The other element is the value for the source of water. Some elements could be present in water before it is bottled and as such, the only technique to make the research sound is to do away with the variable through conducting a test on sources of water that is filled in the bottles. Inasmuch this does not ignore the findings in Sax’s works, the issue of unclean water before bottling is significant.

A lot of studies have been conducted across over the years on the value of bottled water so as biochemical leaking. Statistics on record suggests that there are pollutants which able to find their way into bottled water. However, a number of them exist in concentrations above discovery and below the regulated intensities. In as much as the literature talks of different objectives and different conclusions, they indicated the presence of substances percolating into bottled water and there is a probability of them exceeding the regulated levels.

Production and Manufacture

Manufacture of bottled water involves huge amounts of energy, petroleum as well as natural gas. In 2010, the water in disposables in US consumed about 30 and 53 barrels of oil. If the manufacture of plastic, extraction of water, bottling and transfer are considered, this water can consume close to 2,000x the energy required for production of tapped water. Additionally, plastic requires about 72 million gallons of oil per year to manufacture. Oil usage causes emission of carbons and amplified reliance on fossil energies. Contrastingly, tapped water is obtained from springs which considerably increases the transportation cost. Inasmuch as cleansing and pumping of water requires energy, doing away with the requirement to manufacture and fill water bottles avoids a lot of energy.

Bottling needs more energy as well as a lot resources because of the manner in wshich plastic is created and dispersed. Many of the disposables in the US are prepared from soft plastic, PET. This type of plastic is light and transparent. It is usually used in bottling a lot of soda brands, soft drinks not forgetting condiments. The PET manufactured from resins; by-products of petroleum and natural gas. The process yields a lot of carcinogenic vapor into the atmosphere.

Simple hydrocarbon molecules undergo processing to make plastic resins. The process of refining petroleum and natural gas causes carbon emissions as well as emission of hazardous substances to the atmosphere. The process entails a lot of constituents, for example, substances used such as catalysts. Most components thus have the prospects of leaking in the walls of the bottle once it is filled. The procedure is energy intensive, dangerous to the atmosphere and very expensive.

The industries that process and manufacture PET emit harmful gases that are dangerous to human health of the surrounding population. The rates of cancer and fitness issues are on the rise in the population surrounding the industries. Staying close to the PET industries reduces the worth of buildings and in most cases, becomes exceedingly hard to the house owners to dispose of their houses and thus many become financially obligated to live in the locality which only may end up taking away their life. The harmful impact of plastics does not revolve around the plastic production alone. The synthesis of PET plastics leads to health issues through a process known as leaching.

Research reveals several categories of pollutants in bottled water due to leaching from the PET plastics. The common ones are toluene and styrene which have possible health effects. Toluene causes issues with the Central Nervous System, liver as well as the kidneys. According to Sax, (2010), intensities of phthalates present in PET and other drink carriers can lead to the disruption of the endocrine system. The literature by Sax corroborates increasing literature that indicates the effects of phthalates (Sax, 2009). Phthalates in water bottles can lead to harmful effects like weight gain, issues of reproduction in males and females, insulin resistance, reduced levels of sex hormones (Daniels, 2013). Temperature and time of storage have proved to be conditions that have a great impact on leaching of bottled water.

A number of companies indicate that their bottles are leach resistant. However, about 2-3 % of bottles tested were the only ones which never leaked (Daniels, 2013). The statistics is significant because antimony is commonly present in substances to leak into bottled water. From research PET bottles leach faster when incubated at high temperatures.

A substantial chunk of money is used in the purchase of bottled water. Whereas the businesses are pocketing profits, bottled water is not at the best interest of an individual or a community. Globally, about 90 billion is consumed per year on disposables alone. An evaluation of this cost with that of tap water presents huge disparities. Tap water requires only 0.002 sterling pounds for each gallon, whilst archetypal bottled water cost the consumer about 1000x higher compared to tap water. Although there is higher price of water for each gallon in Bentley, tap water is at 500x inexpensive where compared with the cost of buying a unit bottle of water on University of Bentley’s Campus.

A total of 140 University of Bentley Campus students, and staff completed the bottled water survey. 130 of the participants were students and the 9 were staff, 1 participant never completed the survey. The topics considered comprised the reason for buying bottled water; place where the bottled water was bought and the reason for differing or proposing a bottle restriction in University of Bentley. The other question was how environmentally conscious the participants claimed to be on a scale of 1-5.

61 percent of the participants remained on a meal plan, which implying bottled water is expected to be available as a meal exchange alternative whilst 36 % were not. Still, 68 % of the participants were in support of a total ban of bottled water in University of Bentley Campus. Of the 32 percent who opposed the ban, 38 percent indicated the willingness to make up their minds if the campus availed more water points within the institution.

Upon being questioned on the reason they possessed re-usable bottle, they indicated that it was the only efficient manner of drinking water. Some did not like purchasing disposables and endeavored to be environmentally responsive, whereas the rest had the feeling that re-usable bottles are more suitable. A large number of the participants indicated that re-usable bottles are the healthier alternative, whilst quite a number quoted the atmosphere. The low percentage who did not possess a re-usable water bottle responded their dislike of carrying a bottle from one lecture to the other. Others neither liked the taste of re-usable bottles nor felt there is adequate treated water in campus to necessitate buying of re-usable water bottles (Huerta-Saenz, Irigoyen, Benavides & Mendoza, 2012).

On the question of what obstacles would bar the ban of bottled water in Campus, 41 % responded that the barrier with bottle restriction would be overlooking carrying a re-usable bottle. The rest thought a prohibition would remove the healthiest beverage on the menu and the restriction would infringe on their freedom of choice. One of the participants indicated that taking water bottles from vending machines only would deal with issues of those that require buying bottled water occasionally.

All through the numerous projects undertaken this semester, I have found out that there are lots of factors to look into in understanding water behavior. We were able to deal with the issues via the differed study methodologies employed during the research. Our studies have indicated that there are areas that need to be researched further. For instance, there is need to research on the categories of re-usable water bottles which are attractive to students and whether particular water bottle designs effectively accommodate different social groups. Thus, I have learnt that increasing awareness as well as understanding of water conservation within the student fraternity is necessary in supporting University of Bentley Campus’ commitment to sustainability (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The project was to investigate the viability of coming up with a prohibition on bottled water at University of Bentley, and to ascertain how the restriction is to be enforced. Analyzing the works looked into the financial aspect as well as the processing of bottled water, so as the social and ecological healthy effects posed by bottled water. Additionally, rules on bottled and tap water were considered. Based on the works assessment, it is clear other universities have tried to do away with bottled water on their campuses. This study has made way for a prospective successful prohibition. If monumental steps are engaged, the abolition of bottled water would be accomplished.


From the data collected, abolishing the use of disposable bottled water in University of Bentley Campus’ dining locations is achievable. To necessitate full support from the students, there is need for further research to deal with different issues. More surveys, before and after the restriction will raise the understanding of perceptions and assist in making sure everything takes a smooth course (Ward, et al. 2009).

More work needs to be done to construct the necessary infrastructure needed to facilitate the success of the ban. This will involve the student leadership and other on and off campus groups to get finances to create more filtered water fountains around the campus. Moreover, to the fountains and re-usable water bottles, it is significant to ensure that there is a committed group of students or staff to carry on with the project in future. To address the issues of bottled water and ensure commitment to sustainability, the following recommendations are necessary:

  1. Installation of cleaning sinks for re-usable water bottles in dormitories to make it convenient for students,
  2. Include education and awareness to the freshmen and international student orientations,
  3. Encourage the university departments to provide free re-usable water bottles that are easy to clean.
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The Sustainability of Bottled Water. (2019, Oct 29). Retrieved from