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Australians are thirsty for pricey bottled water: UN

A United Nations report has shed light on Australia’s unquenchable thirst for bottled water, despite the fact it’s the most expensive in the world.

PETER GARRETT RECYCLING INITIATIVE Australians are the second-largest consumers of bottled water on a per capita basis.
March 17, 2023
By Tracey Ferrier
17 March 2023


* Australia has the most expensive bottled water in the world

* Aussies pay an average price of $US3.57 per unit, or $A5.40

* That’s more than 40 per cent more than what consumers pay in North America and Europe, and roughly four times what they pay in Asia and Africa

* Australia is the world’s fifth-largest market for bottled water but Aussies are the second-largest consumers on a per capita basis

* In 2021, each Aussie spent $US$386, or almost $A580 buying 504 litres of bottled water


* In 2021 the global bottled water market was estimated to be almost $US270 billion, or almost $407 billion

* That’s expected to almost double by 2030

* Currently the market involves the extraction and packaging of 350 billion litres of water

* The market has increased by 73 per cent during the past decade, making it one of the fastest-growing markets in the world

* The Asia-Pacific region accounts for about half of the global market, followed by North America (29 per cent) and Europe (11 per cent)


* Market drivers differ significantly between the global north and the global south

* In the north, it’s often perceived as healthier and tastier than tap water, more of a luxury than a necessity

* In the south, sales are mainly driven by insufficient or a complete lack of public water supplies


* Globally there’s a lack of data available on water volumes extracted by the bottled water industry and an absence of a legal mechanism to force disclosures

* It’s estimated the industry produced about 600 billion plastic bottles and containers in 2021, most not recycled and destined for landfill

* The report says the expansion of bottled water markets has slowed down progress on the development of public water supply systems

* Estimates suggest that if the world diverted less than half of what it spends a year on bottled water, it would be enough to provide access to clean tap water for hundreds of millions of people who lack, for years

Source: Global Bottled Water Industry: A Review of Impacts and Trends, a report by the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, based on an analysis of literature and data from 109 countries.

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