The report examines facts and perceptions about bottled water in the global context. It analyses the geography, structure, trends, and drivers of the global bottled water market. It examines the existing knowledge on the quality of bottled water, its impacts on water resources, and its role in plastic pollution. It raises the question of the bottled water industry’s contribution to the sustainable development goal on universal access to safe drinking water. The analysis considered only those types of bottled water that have little or no difference in taste from the tap water provided by regular municipal water supply. It is shown that bottled water is widely consumed in the both Global North and South although prices can be orders of magnitude higher than tap water….
The report argues that while progress toward universal access to safe drinking water for all is significantly off-track, the expansion of bottled water markets slows this progress down, distracting attention and resources from accelerated public water supply systems development. Estimates suggest that less than half of what the world pays for bottled water annually would be sufficient to ensure clean tap water access for hundreds of millions of people without it – for years. There are recent high-level initiatives that aim to scale up financing for the Sustainable Development Goals, including water-related ones. Such initiatives are an opportunity for the bottled water sector to become an active player in this process and help accelerate the progress toward sustainable water supply, particularly in the Global South.