Each bottle requires nearly five times its volume in water to manufacture the plastic and can cause the release of nickel, ethylene oxide and benzene back into the wastewater, which then enters the local waterways and the atmosphere. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly used plastic for making water bottles. PET is derived from crude oil.
Manufacturing with Oil
According to a study conducted by the Earth Policy Institute, more than 17 million barrels of oil are used annually to meet Americans’ demands in manufacturing water bottles. That translates to enough fuel for more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year. Eliminating just the plastic used to make water bottles would be equivalent to taking 100-000-cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The crude oil required to make the water bottles is only a drop in the barrel when compared to the amount of fuel required to transport the water once it is bottled. The U.S. imports water from as far away as Italy and France or Fiji, a distance of more than 5000 miles, and at the same time exports water bottled in the United States to other countries as well as within the country traveling from state to state. Nearly one-fourth of all bottled water will cross a national border as it is transported by ships, trains and trucks.