Recession Watch: Bottled Water Sales Dry Up

This year frugal Americans are voting with their tap, and environmentalists and family budgetary gurus are rejoicing: Sales of bottled water are on the wane and consumption of fancy H20 is down for the first time in a decade.

The downward trend was reported on by The Washington Post, which pointed out that Nestle - the largest seller of bottled water in the U.S. - saw their first decline in water sales profits in six years. Meanwhile, according to the trade organization Beverage Marketing Corp., bottled water consumption is down in the U.S. for the first time in a decade.

As previously reported by MainStreet, the trend can be viewed as positive for many reasons:

Water Safety. Bottled water is not necessarily safer than water from the tap. Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA’s regulation of bottled water is generally weaker than the EPA’s regulation of tap water, according to the Government Accountability Office.  In addition, the FDA does not have the same authority to regulate bottled water in the same way EPA regulates drinking water. 

Waste. Beyond the more immediate effects of quality and safety, the trendiness of bottled water consumption has also led to plastic bottles washing ashore, sitting in landfills and many other places that aren’t recycling plants. About 75% of the water bottles produced in the U.S. in 2006 were not recycled, the GAO says.

Expense. Water in a bottle costs more than water from a tap. Americans spend more than $11 billion a year on bottled water, according to government estimates,  at least that figure is bound to drip down a bit this year.

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