Bottled water has a relatively low environmental impact compared with many other foods. It is mainly the climate that is affected. Most Swedes have access to tap water of excellent quality, and bottled water therefore generates unnecessary environmental burden.
In Sweden we drink about 66 million litres of bottled water every year corresponding to 6.5 litres per person.* But we drink even more soft drinks – more than 98 litres per person annually.* Compared to soft drinks, bottled water is considerably better for the health and the environment.
* according to official statistics for 2018, compiled by the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
Effect on the climate
The bulk of greenhouse gas emissions come from production itself – the manufacture of packaging, reuse/recycling and waste disposal.
Different packaging materials generate different levels of emissions. Glass bottles that can be refilled generate lower emissions than PET bottles and aluminium cans that are recycled. But the size of the packaging also affects emissions; a 1.5 litre PET bottle that is recycled generates less environmental impact than a 33 centilitre glass bottle that is recycled, because less material is used per litre of beverage. But this assumes that we drink the entire content of the bottle and that larger bottles do not lead to increased consumption.
Transportation of water also causes emissions that affect the climate. How much emissions are generated depends on how far, how efficiently and by what transport method the water is shipped. Transportation by train and boat results in lower emissions than long distances by truck.
This information has been compiled in cooperation with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.