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Business, Environment, STEM

Before You Raise That Next Bottle of Water, Consider Turning It Upside Down First

aquafina-bottled-waterThe bottled water industry is booming. According to Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) [Ref 1], the U.S. bottled water market reached new heights in 2014 with sales of almost 11 billion gallons. This is the strongest growth that the bottled water industry has seen since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

The BMC report also noted that Americans upped their annual consumption of bottled water by almost 11 gallons from 23.2 gallons per person in 2004 to 34 gallons a decade later. We are definitely drinking more bottled water, and numerous questions have been raised about the quality of this consumable item. However, today’s question is: What do you know about the plastic bottle that the water comes in?

While I am not a fan of single-use bottled water containers and try to reduce my use of them, the above stats show that they will be around for a while. Opportunities to reduce the use of plastic in bottled drinking water and other products will also be discussed in future posts.

The graphic below shows Resin Identification Codes (RIC) that describe the type of plastic resin used to make a container or bottle. Most containers and packages should have a number printed on it, a series ranging from one to seven.

plastic-bottle-ratings

 

The members of Healthy Holistic Living have provided a good summary of the different types of plastics that are used for bottled water in the U.S. and other places. This content was published earlier under the heading: Here Is What You Need To Check Next Time You Buy Bottled Water.

…Plastic bottles labeled with letters like HDP, HDPE, PP and a few others, do not release any toxic material in the water, and the remaining letters can represent the chemicals found in the water you are drinking.

Every brand must label the content of the bottle. They will either have the letters, numbers or number symbols shown in the graphic [above].

#1 PET or PETE – stands for single-use bottles. These bottles can possibly release heavy metals and chemicals that affect the hormonal balance.

“PET is one of the most commonly used plastics in consumer products, and is found in most water and pop bottles, and some packaging. It is intended for single use applications; repeated use increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. PET plastic is difficult to decontaminate, and proper cleaning requires harmful chemicals. Polyethylene terephthalates may leach carcinogens.”

#2 HDP – plastic that practically releases no chemicals. Experts recommend choosing these bottles, when buying bottled water, because it is probably the healthiest water you can find on the market.

High density polyethylene plastic is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent and oil bottles, toys, and some plastic bags. HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic. It is a relatively simple and cost-effective process to recycle HDPE plastic for secondary use.”

#3 PVC or 3V – releases 2 toxic chemicals that affect the hormones in your body.

Polyvinyl chloride is a soft, flexible plastic used to make clear plastic food wrapping, cooking oil bottles, teething rings, children’s and pets’ toys, and blister packaging for myriad consumer products. It is commonly used as the sheathing material for computer cables, and to make plastic pipes and parts for plumbing. Because PVC is relatively impervious to sunlight and weather, it is used to make window frames, garden hoses, arbors, raised beds and trellises.”

clear-plastic-water-bottles#4 LDPE – this plastic cannot be used in the production of bottles, but plastic bags, even though it does not release any chemicals into the water.

Low density polyethylene is often found in shrink wraps, dry cleaner garment bags, squeezable bottles, and the type of plastic bags used to package bread. The plastic grocery bags used in most stores today are made using LDPE plastic. Some clothing and furniture also uses this type of plastic.”

#5 PP – another white colored or semi-transparent plastic, used as a packing for syrups and yogurt cups.

Polypropylene plastic is tough and lightweight, and has excellent heat-resistance qualities. It serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals. When you try to open the thin plastic liner in a cereal box, it is polypropylene. This keeps your cereal dry and fresh. PP is also commonly used for disposable diapers, pails, plastic bottle tops, margarine and yogurt containers, potato chip bags, straws, packing tape and rope.”

#6 PS – releases some carcinogenic substances and it is commonly used in the production of coffee cups and fast food casings.

Polystyrene is an inexpensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic with a wide variety of uses. It is most often used to make disposable styrofoam drinking cups, take-out “clamshell” food containers, egg cartons, plastic picnic cutlery, foam packaging and those ubiquitous “peanut” foam chips used to fill shipping boxes to protect the contents. Polystyrene is also widely used to make rigid foam insulation and underlay sheeting for laminate flooring used in home construction.”

#7 PC or non-labeled plastic polycarbonate is the most dangerous plastic in the food production which releases BPA chemicals and it is often used in the production of sports water bottles and food containers. [End]

Suffice it to say that all bottled water is not produced or manufactured in the same way. This is also true for the bottle or container that holds the water. As a quick summary:

  • Read the label and/or look for the RIC number on the packaging.
  • Avoid any plastic designated #7, #3, and #6.
  • Purchase water in plastic bottles that are relatively safe and designated #1, #2, #4, and #5

Summer 2016 is almost over, and the autumnal (fall) equinox begins on September 22, 2016. However, staying properly hydrated is a requirement for good health (ask former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about this one), and a year-round job for all of us!

Sources Cited:

  1. Bottled Water 2014: Reinvigoration, U.S. and International Developments and Statistics, by John G. Rodwan, Jr. for Beverage Marketing Corporation, July/August 2015, http://www.bottledwater.org/public/BWR%20JulyAug%202015%20Issue_BMC_2014%20Bottled%20Water%20Statistics%20Article.pdf#overlay-context=economics/industry-statistics
  1. Here is What You Need To Check Next Time You Buy Bottled Water, published in Healthy Holistic Living, http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/need-check-next-time-buy-bottled-water.html
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About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.

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