Should we stop drinking bottled water? Tap water is clean, cheap, and readily-available (not to mention much better for the environment), yet sales of bottled water have been increasing globally. By 2017, humans worldwide were buying one million plastic bottles per minute, with total annual plastic bottle consumption set to reach half-a-trillion by 2021. Clearly, this isn’t sustainable.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Vera, who thinks the EU should do more to limit the use of single-use plastics such as plastic cutlery and plastic water bottles. Is she right?

To get a response, we spoke to Laure Cucuron, General Manager of TerraCycle Europe, a company that makes consumer products from recycled waste. What would she say?

Yes, of course I agree. However I think that, although [policies limiting the use of plastic bottles and cutlery] are very important, they are still quite symbolic; which means that, in terms of volume (and compared to the volume of single-use plastic packaging that are used in different industries), they are not going to solve the issue. So, I think it’s good to have progress on this, and it’s something we need to encourage, but I also think we need to rethink the current single-use model and try to find a solution at the root of the problem. So, I do agree, but I think we could do more and do it quicker.

Next up, we had a more sceptical comment from James, who says he massively prefers plastic bottles over glass, because “glass weighs more and can be broken easily”.

To get a response to James’ comment, we spoke to André Abreu, Director of International Political Relations at the Tara Océan Foundation, an organisation that campaigns to raise awareness about the impact of climate change and pollution on the world’s oceans. What would he say to James?

Should plastic water bottles be banned? Or are glass bottles even less sustainable because of the amount of energy they take to manufacture and transport? Should we instead rethink our entire “single use” model? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (cc) Flickr – rey perezoso


134 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    José António Garcia Ferreira de Almeida

    Plastic bottles should not be banned because they are light and practical, however, a process of recovery of this lost tare with a tax benefit or discount voucher for consumers should be implemented in order to serve as an incentive for the collection and subsequent submission to an industrial recycling process.

    • avatar
      Jack

      defenetly. I agree with you José, only for plastic bottles made with bio degradable plastic or already recycled one

    • avatar
      Stefania

      Once Recycled I don’t think it’s a good thing for drinks. Food stuff must guarantee health. Recycle Plastic Bottles to do other things that aren’t about food. Maybe for cleaning detergents of the house or body.

  2. avatar
    Indie

    Governments should start increasing fines/punishments for littering, fly tipping, etc depending

    Here’s an example

    Paper cup ? Slap on the wrist.

    Cigarette butt ? Pick it up, and dispose of in ash tray.

    Water bottle or close enough ? 3 life sentences

    Whole bag full of trash disposed of elsewhere other than your property ? Death sentence

    That’ll show them!

  3. avatar
    Ras

    We already have a solution that works and everyone should enforce: Bottle deposit fees and convenient return points in store.

    Plastic makes sense for some uses like carrying liquids, but their environmental impact should not be ignored. Moreover, deposits also tackle the negative impact of substitutes like glass and aluminium cans which can be recycled too.

    Because of deposits and convenient return points, Norway recycles 97% and Finland 95% of bottles. Lots of countries do deposits but fall short because it is not convenient to return them or the deposit doesn’t is too small.

    From an environmental standpoint incentivizing recycling also tackles emissions head-on, as recycled bottles and cans for new products also only uses 5-20% of the energy compared to creating bottles and cans from virgin material.

  4. avatar
    Angie

    Many agricultural areas (and those areas are usually in the south) have ruined the water table with decades of pesticides which are now banned etc. Now this water gets cleaned with bleach, as others have commented, but its within the safe limits. I have stopped drinking tap water since I was a kid. We buy plastic water bottles for years. You can’t go pass the taste. It tastes bad. You can see how harsh the water is by the build up of water scales in everything (kettles, washing machine, etc) the water is too harsh and in fact at the back of the cloth detergants it’s advised to add more when washing which means there is more detergant to the system, and so on.

  5. avatar
    Blau

    Banned no, taxed yes. Tax appropriate for the cost of cleaning them up and recycling.

  6. avatar
    Bana

    If they do ban the plastic bottles what are they going to put the water in when they sell it?

    • avatar
      Lloyd

      A recyclable box.

    • avatar
      Cole

      Get it out of a tap in a reusable bottle.

  7. avatar
    Sarah

    Maybe start giving money on small plastic bottles

  8. avatar
    Wes

    90% of plastic polluting our oceans comes from just 10 rivers
    hint: it’s not the Danube or Rhine

  9. avatar
    Kyriakos

    Yes, there are many fully recycled alternatives, such as aluminum cans.

  10. avatar
    Antonio

    F*** yes.
    It should be more common to have public fountains around towns or it could be a nice idea to detax water filters from VAT.

  11. avatar
    Sonya

    Plastic bottles should to be banned in bars, restaurants and all kind of eating establishments.

  12. avatar
    Vladislav

    Banning plastic would do more harm than good to the enviroment

    • avatar
      Lynn

      what about a reusable one you fill from the tap??

  13. avatar
    Stefania

    Any drink preserved in the glass bottle is better than plastic but plastic is not only more comfortable but in some cases it is advisable and mandatory. In the pool for example glass bottles can’t enter are dangerous. What do you do not drink Plastic must be recycled. Now the releases is implemented everywhere

  14. avatar
    Michail

    No. But severe penalties should be inducted for persons dumping garbage at random and fines for entire districts for failing to recycle plastic trash.

    • avatar
      Stefania

      The fine serves for little. Right now we don’t need fines because people for the releases pay. Who Recicla should not only be free but encouraged as it was a prize for doing a good thing for the environment. Fine no but free releases (or paid) yes as it used to be. When I was a child with the reviclo we bought the musical instruments for the community We were incentives to do it This way people don’t pollute the environment

    • avatar
      Michail

      What would you replace it with?

    • avatar
      Павел

      Michail – Go for glass, return policy with massive promotion campaign. Will take couple of years but it will eventually work.

    • avatar
      Michail

      Glass has to be washed before reused. The washing agents contain microplastic and pose a lot more danger to the environment,than the ordinary polymers,which could be gathered and recycled. Ought to be gathered & recycled.

    • avatar
      Павел

      Michail – Agreed, however I am pretty sure if corporations can come up with something like AI they can also come up with washing agents that don’t contain microplastic as mentioned by you. Also glass is safer and people friendly in terms of storing liquids at different temperatures.

    • avatar
      Michail

      They can also found a bio-degradable plastic. But it will take time. Time we have less’n less. The bans won’t solve the problem, the recycling will.

    • avatar
      Michail

      The only lasting solution would be sanctions on imports from states,which neglect recycling. And not ban on plastic in Europe. Because it isn’t Europe the primary contributer for the plastic trash in the world ocean. Far East is.

    • avatar
      Павел

      Michail – I beg to differ, plastic pouring in from the Far East is either from EU factories based there or by demand of EU companies.

    • avatar
      Michail

      Or rather American ones

  15. avatar
    Павел

    With the massive funds they have they can achieve anything if they have the will. I’d say we settle for a combination of massive fines the money from which go towards recycling implementation procedures on global scale. I will laos argue that ban will also work, imagine Cocal-Cola banned for selling its products in Germany for a Year, wouldn’t they run to change things for the better? ;)

    • avatar
      Michail

      I’d bet Germany isn’t the largest market for Coca-Cola. Any ban on them will just make them relicate their factories to a Third World country,where they can buy the government off and carry on with their business unhindered by fines or lawsuits. The aftermath would be loss of jobs in Germany. Many large corporations do that.

  16. avatar
    Bódis

    France dumps 11200 tons of plastic into the Mediterranean every year.

  17. avatar
    Enric

    Probably they should ban other plástic items before the bottles

  18. avatar
    Николай

    Yes, and all plastic tools like forks and spoons

  19. avatar
    Florin

    I have a chemist friend. To him it is a question of profit… Like so many other things… It isn’t profitable to properly deal with the plastic problem… I somehow tend to believe him… We have, however two distinct problems. One is the plastic already in circulation. Let’s learn from Norway… And the other is the plastic we are going to make… Quote: “when the last tree is cut, and the last water poisoned, when the last fish is caught, you will find that money cannot be eaten”… It is time to DO something about it…

  20. avatar
    Trayan

    It’s not going to be easy, but I hope new technology or new bio material can be use for bottles…

  21. avatar
    Gaby

    Everything which is NOT sustainable and a major environmental issue should be banned.

  22. avatar
    Jurgen

    humanity should be banned, all solved… save the planet

  23. avatar
    Pascal

    Plastic bottles should not be banned. However, their use should cost and people should know how much. If for instance a plastic bottle cost 50c while water costs €1, then people should be able to return the bottle and recover the 50c. Those who don’t recover will loose and can be fined when they throw bottles on the street while others can gain by collecting and return bottles on streets. Society will be much cleaner. I think

  24. avatar
    Annelies

    yes. production of all this rubbish is where the troubles start

  25. avatar
    Alan

    Yes -absolutely.Start with unnecessary bottled water. Returnable glass bottles if a must

    • avatar
      Carlo

      Alan – the transport and distribution of glass botles harms the environment more

    • avatar
      Alan

      Carlo – Pretty sure the consumption of plastic is a bigger problem than that of glass which can be recycled

  26. avatar
    Line

    Yes it should be banned and bottled in glass bottles

  27. avatar
    Joseph

    Glass bottles and aluminium tins could be solution if only people would be less messy. Comparing to plastic, aluminium and glass is recyclable unlimited times while plastic can’t . Plastic ends up as toxic waste anyway.

  28. avatar
    Paul

    every kind of plastik can be recycled ,however it takes to much chemicals and energie to do it ? dare for it’s not commercial . that is the only raison why the d’ont do it ; there not enouf money to make

  29. avatar
    Nick

    all single use plastic should be banned or have a deposit.

  30. avatar
    Savvas

    if plastic bottles will be banned, some other replacement invation will take over the sea pollution py humans… this would be glass bottles,tetrapak packages, cans, straws… the thing that we have to understant and use is recycle and the recycle bins! Must be penalties for those who don’t!

  31. avatar
    Christine

    There is hemp you can replace the plastic. With, à lot of decompastable material which can replace plastic

  32. avatar
    Marc

    They should have a deposit, you do not trow away money, then recollected and the material reused….

  33. avatar
    Mieke

    They still have to ask this????????

  34. avatar
    Thierry

    That doesn’t come from us….. from the other side of the sphere…. go on a trip to there (and not with our pennies, greedy) 🤔🤔🤔

    • avatar
      Ghislaine

      Thierry – you would scare how much plastic from us was plying over there. That they take out the corruption. What is going to be geconsumeert here is processed here and not in China or Malaysia. Here and nowhere else.

  35. avatar
    Anita

    Thierry – a very big part does come from us, all of Europe, Canada and the us feed their plastic waste to there, it used to be to China, but China doesn’t want our brol anymore and right they have

    • avatar
      Thierry

      You who know everything with looking at family, look at other channels that dare to broadcast this. If you believe everything our green ones tell you, they will be telling you a lot. Some feiten:75%van The South American countries dump their dirt directly in the rivers…. which as you know, the sea or rather ocean enter…. because of the currents they end up here, as you also know, that’s how the currents in the oceans go … These countries are compared to us giant, their populations too! Didn’t you have to find Belgium on the globe…. that’s the needlehead on the right of France. We are doing a lot to save the environment, those countries do nothing, the prime minister is still walking around with a ring in the nose. So best people learn to look something up for you to get China and co….. poor belgenlandje 😫😫😫

  36. avatar
    Jochen

    Dumbest question ever! Of course they should be banned!!!

  37. avatar
    Michel

    The world is changing fast & a new paradigm has born: in order to survive, Humanity needs to live in harmony with Nature & of course plastic bottles should be banned until we don’t find a new molecule to replace the actual stupid “single use plastic” for everything that last centuries…

  38. avatar
    Twei

    maybe humans need to be more japanese in this regard =/
    pro and cons though

  39. avatar
    Ruurdt

    recycling or return to the supplier for re-use

  40. avatar
    Danielle

    Yes, plastic is harmful to the planet and our health. In the 50s, there was no plastic.

  41. avatar
    Ralph

    When the 1%’s Backyard is littered full with plastic bottles they will be banned the next day! :)

  42. avatar
    Pedro

    Yes, of course they should!! It’s one ou biggest problems. Treat, and regulate tap water as it should, invest on ti like our lives depend on it! Healthy lives, not survival lives!

  43. avatar
    Indie

    Governments should start increasing fines/punishments for littering, fly tipping, etc

    Paper cup ? Slap on the wrist. We’ll let it slide!

    Cigarette butt ? Pick it up and dispose properly in ash tray you b*tch. slaps the smoker into next week

    Water bottle (or close enough) ? 3 life sentences

    To be continued..

  44. avatar
    Ras

    We already have a solution that works and everyone should enforce: Bottle deposit fees and convenient return points in store.

    Plastic makes sense for some uses like carrying liquids, but their environmental impact should not be ignored. Moreover, deposits also tackle the negative impact of substitutes like glass and aluminium cans which can be recycled too.

    Because of deposits and convenient return points, Norway recycles 97% and Finland 95% of bottles. Lots of countries do deposits but fall short because it is not convenient to return them or the deposit doesn’t is too small.

    From an environmental standpoint incentivizing recycling also tackles emissions head-on, as recycled bottles and cans for new products also only uses 5-20% of the energy compared to creating bottles and cans from virgin material.

    • avatar
      Tin

      This. When the deposit is higher than the price of the water it’d be stupid not to return them. Here you can buy a beer for two empty water bottles.

    • avatar
      Canada

      In my province, they are going to make companies that produce and use plastic take over the recycling system. This goes for all plastic packaging not just water bottles. I hope it works since it will force companies to create much greener packaging and eliminate all the extra un-needed packaging since that would be an easy model for a lot of countries to follow and would mean companies everywhere could adopt the new, better packaging.

    • avatar
      Last

      Also the 5% mostly just ends up in the general trash, or possibly even in plastic trash if I remember it correctly.

  45. avatar
    Elisa

    A solution could be the utilization of very resistant and reusable bottles like those of “Tupperware”.

  46. avatar
    Vincenzo/Braian

    We are against the use of plastic bottles because they are changing the biodiversity; the problem is that plastic bottles are so handy. Indeed
    people should use them mildly. What do you think ?

  47. avatar
    Nicola

    yes, we agree.we have to respect nature and animals, lots of turtles dies because of the plastic things like bottles.if fish eat plastic we eat plastic too.

  48. avatar
    Giulia e Angelica

    In our opinion we must not throw plastic a sea because it is harmful our environment and to animals living at the sea

  49. avatar
    Charles

    Bring back the glass bottles!

  50. avatar
    Chris

    Yes, totaly. They cause cancer. Only glass bottles.

  51. avatar
    Kyriakos

    Yes, there are many alternatives

  52. avatar
    Luigi

    Glass only, and you get discount or paid for bringing them in. (As kids we used to ravage construction sites for beer bottles we would then exchange for nickels at the corner store, this 50 years ago in Montreal.)

  53. avatar
    Anna

    Yes….use glass bottles instead

  54. avatar
    Olivier

    I think so…. But why do you boost free trade agreements which bring pollution and unfair competition instead of backing local productions. Free trade is obsolete…

  55. avatar
    Lynn Bayliss

    Yes of course they should be banned! Why on earth does anyone need to drink bottled water in countries that have safe tap water! Shops should sell reusable cups/bottles and provide filling points.

  56. avatar
    Enric

    Yes the big ones but not the small. These are safer to carry on walks, for children, etc.

  57. avatar
    Martin

    No, let the market and consumers decide by their wallet! By the way, the glass bottles, so beloved by false ecologists, require more energy for washing than what is needed for recycling of the plastic bottle…

  58. avatar
    José

    shure not, they most be recycled

  59. avatar
    Gloria

    Bottled water is simply not necessary. Buy a filter jug. Imagine millions of lorries, driving billions of miles, using untold litres of diesel carrying nothing but bottled water. No wonder our planet is dying.

    • avatar
      Lynn

      I so agree with you. It’s madness all this bottled water drinking! 😕

  60. avatar
    Lynn

    Why on earth does anyone need to drink bottled water in any sort of container in countries where the tap water is safe! It’s madness! The carbon footprint is huge regardless of what sort of containers you use!

  61. avatar
    Vladislav

    No plastic ones are safer they don’t shatter and are much easier to carry

  62. avatar
    Satsuma

    Yes. And make drinking fountains mandatory in all public places like offices, air ports, market squares etc.

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