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UN: Half of bottled water would be enough to give universal access to drinking water

UN: Half of bottled water would be enough to give universal access to drinking water

Half of the money spent worldwide on the purchase of bottled waterwhose sales have skyrocketed in recent decades, would be enough to guarantee universal access to drinking wateraccording to a study by the UN posted on Thursday.

Stopping consuming bottled water would also effectively reduce plastic pollution, with an estimated 85% of bottles ending up in landfills, says the report from the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Hamilton, Canada.

But consumer preferences are influenced by misconceptions about the safety of tap water and bottled water.

“The perception is that bottled water is the healthiest optionsaid the study’s lead author, Zeineb Bouhlel.

“But we have shown that this is not necessarily the case, and people are paying much more for bottled water, 150 to 1,000 times more than for a liter of tap water”he pointed.

According to the study, contaminants have been found in hundreds of brands of bottled water in more than 40 countries, often exceeding local or global standards.

Over the past decade, global bottled water sales have increased by 73%, to nearly 270 billion and 350 billion litres.

Some 600 billion plastic bottles are produced each year, representing approximately 25 million tons of plastic waste.

In the northern hemisphere, consumers tend to buy bottled water due to its portability and the perception that it is healthier and tastier than tap water, while in the southern hemisphere sales are generally driven by a lack of public supplies reliable water.

uncontrolled extraction

The report also warns about the lack of regulation governing the bottled water industry, highlighting the inability of governments to keep up with the runaway expansion of this sector.

This has brought risks such as “uncontrolled extraction of groundwater for bottling”which could eventually lead to groundwater depletion or scarcity, he says.

Vladimir Smakhtin, co-author of the study, warned that 2 billion people still do not have access to quality drinking water.

The situation is worst in sub-Saharan Africa and, globally, is exacerbated by the continued expansion of bottled water markets, which he said diverts attention and resources from developing public water systems.

However, some progress has been made, the study argues. In 2020, 74% of the world’s population had access to safe drinking water, compared to 62% twenty years earlier.

But “we are a long way off” from meeting the UN goal of making drinking water universally available by 2030, Smakhtin said, adding that “The current trend is not sustainable.”

“We must try to invest more in public water supplies to provide people with stable and reliable water instead of bottled water,” he claimed.

The authors of the report also called for greater transparency and the establishment of legal measures that require companies to publicly disclose the volumes of water withdrawn and assess the consequences of their activities on the environment.

Source: AFP

Source: Gestion

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