The Bottled Water Industry
Water-it’s one of the building blocks of life. We need it to live, and without it there would be no living organisms on earth. Water was virtually free a few decades ago. So how did the idea of bottled water come about? In the 1970s many soft drink companies saw their growth start to level out, and looked for a new product to produce, which would become bottled water. Bottled water eventually grew to the estimated $60 billion industry it is today (2006) (2) and is now one of the most popular beverages in the world.

What is the Overall Issue and Why is it a Canadian Issue?
The main issue of Bottled Water is that it is wasteful, and Canadians consume about 60L of bottled water each year (2005) (1).Imagine how many bottles are put in landfills each year. Even if they do get recycled it takes energy to make an old bottle into a new bottle. Why are Canadians spending so much money on an item that they could get for their homes for virtually nothing and at the same time, trashing their planet? It’s not like most of us don’t have access to fresh and clean drinking water. We actually have around 20% of the World’s drinkable fresh water. Despite this we continue to buy a plenitude of bottled water.
external image landfill-bottle.jpg

Stakeholders:The parties that are affected by bottled water in Canada include: Canadian Government, Bottled Water Manufactures (Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo etc.), and the People.

Canadian Government: The Canadian Government is partly responsible in making sure the bottled water we buy is safe to consume. Health Canada sets policies/standards that govern the safety and quality of all food products, including bottled water.

Bottled Water Manufactures: There are about 65 bottled water plants in Canada that take water from our lakes (3). The majority of these bottled water plants are located in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia with some plants also located in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies. The success of these companies help fuel our economy and provide lots of jobs. The people they employ need these jobs to support their families and continue to live.

The People: Bottled Water offers us the convenience of having access to safe and clean drinking water if we don’t have it. Though these incidents are rare, they have happened relatively recently in Canada. One of the largest one being the Walkerton Tragedy (4); where a whole community was struck with a strain on E.coli in their water. The unclean water had killed 7 people, and had infected over half the population.

Pros and Cons:
Bottled Water, like many controversial things, has its pros and cons.

The advantages of bottled water include: convenience, taste (preference), and it’s safe.
Bottled water has many practical uses as well. If you’re going on a long road trip a water source might be tough to find, so it’s good to have a couple bottles handy. It can also be an alternative to pop in vending machines, helping people make healthier choices. Some people do prefer the taste of bottled water to tap. It also acts a safety net. This usually doesn’t apply to Canadians, but more to developing countries. Lots of people in these countries have water sources that are either contaminated, or they don’t even have one. Bottled water can give these people safe and clean drinking water.

The disadvantages of bottled water include: Price, Environmental Effects, and No Fluoride. water.jpg
Bottled water has many disadvantages. Bottled water cost about 2000 times more than tap water. A family could save thousands of dollars each year, if they switched from bottled water, to municipal tap water. Bottled water also has a very negative effect on the environment. There is a lot of energy that goes into making a bottle of water. There is the oil and materials used to make it. Then there’s all that energy that goes into shipping it around world. We do all this just for some water, when we could just turn on the tap. Our tap water contains Fluoride, which helps our teeth. Bottled water however, usually does not contain it.

Overall Bottled water has it positives and negatives. However, lots of the pros of bottled water are there because we are lazy. If we packed a reusable bottle of tap water with us, we wouldn’t need to depend on the convenience of bottled water. If you are concerned about safety, you can attach a filter to your tap. This will make sure the water is clean, as well as cost much less than the bottles of water it will add up too.

Four Spheres of Issue Analysis
Bottled Water is a huge part of the beverage market internationally, and in Canada, is the 5th most common wsdqw.jpgdrink, accounting for 10.6%. This figure includes tap water and beverages like soft drinks. The Bottled water industry employs around 11.3 thousand people in Canada, and currently is exporting $22.5 million worth of goods. Though this figure is still large, it is nothing compared to the 2002 peak export at $284.3 million worth. The bottled water industry in Canada is simply slowing down. This is due to a variety of factors such as the recession and the wider awareness of the negative environmental effects of bottled water. Though the industry isn’t what it o be, many families epend on these companies to provide jobs for their needs.

The fact is that our tap water is SAFE to drink, yet demand for bottled water is still increasing. This is producing huge amounts of unnecessary waste and using up vast amounts of energy. Our tap water is more regulated then bottled water and is almost free!

Bottled water is transferred long distances, often across different countries, by truck, boar, train, and plane. This involves using massive amounts of fossil fuels, while tap water travels through energy efficient infrastructures.

More fossil fuels are then used to make the packaging. Most water bottles are made with polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic that comes from crude oil.

“Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand alone requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year,” Emily Arnold, Earth Policy Institute

Once a bottle is finished, it must be dumped. Whether it is recycled or thrown out, valuable resources are used. When we recycle a bottle, though it is better than throwing it out, it is still has a negative impact for the environment. Recycling a plastic bottle uses a lot of energy to make it reusable again. After it’s recycled we go through the packaging, shipping and so forth. Bottled water is an environmental disaster. We are wasting unnecessary resources to make something we can get from our houses that uses much less energy.

In our society lots of us buy bottled water. But what makes people buy Bottled Water, when you can get water for near nothing from your taps. How have advertisers made bottled water such a success?

When we look at a bottled of water we often see icy glaciers and mountains on their labels. Labels with pictures of these mountains, falsely lead people to think that the water in bottled water comes from ice Cold Mountain streams, or perhaps the tropical waters of Fiji. This however in most cases is not true. In fact, more than 25% of the bottled water out there comes right from our municipal water systems! (5) This false sense that bottled water comes from pristine forests and ice cold glaciers, is one of the ways how bottled water companies have seduced us into buying their product.

Another reason why people buy bottled water is because many of us believe it is cleaner. This however is another myth. Experiment after experiment has proven there is absolutely no difference in the cleanliness of the water. Bottled Water giants have implemented advertisements to make us believe that our municipal water is dirty and shouldn't be drunk.

“When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes.”- Susan Wellington, Pres. Quaker Oats US beverage division

Bottled water also always has labels describing how it’s “supposedly” environmentally sustainable. With labels reading “made from 100% recycled plastic” it can often mislead us to making the assumption that it isn’t bad
Bottled Water Ad
for the environment. This is however a huge mistake. Even when it is made using recycled plastic, it takes a lot of energy to make that recycled plastic into a bottle. Then that bottled is shipped across the country to a store, and then bought and usually thrown away. All this energy is used, when we can literally just turn on a tap and fill up a glass and reuse it.

This false sense that tap water is dirty, their company is environmentally responsible, and that their water comes from glaciers, has been implemented by companies to scare, mislead, and seduce us into buying their product. They have made society believe that bottled water is a smart investment and that local tap water is inferior to theirs.

Many places in Canada have considered and in some cases banned bottled water. There has been 16 municipalities in Canada that have already banned the sale of bottled water on municipal property (6). Cities like Toronto are already well on their way to the complete removal of bottled water. The only thing stopping some of this is that many facilities don’t have public drinking fountains. An example of this is the trade centre at Exhibition Place, which was built with only one drinking fountain.

There is no question that clean and affordable drinking water is essential to our global community, but bottled water is not answer to a developed world, nor is it the answer to the 1.1 billion people who lack a secure and safe water supply. Improving existing water treatment and sanitation systems is more likely to provide safe and sustainable sources of water over the long term. There should be more public water fountains that are easily accessible, which will get rid of some of the need to buy bottles of water.

In conclusion, I believe that bottled water is terrible for the environment as it uses lots of energy to make and reuse, while with a turn of a tap we can get essentially the same product. But I don’t believe and outright ban would logical. When you’re at the gym you might want to treat yourself to something. Bottled water can be a suitable as well as healthier option than something like a sugary drink. People will argue, well you can just get a glass of tap water, but the point is in these situations you want to treat yourself to something- you want to have a physical reward. I believe if we could put a tax/fee on bottled water like we do with the electronics (environmental fee), it would convince people to stop regularly buying bottled water. This would lead to less bottles being bought and reduce the effect bottled water has on the environment. And with the environmental fee, we will be able to put it towards alternative energy sources, and someday making the recycling process sustainable.Clearly something has to be done about bottled water and it's negative effects on the environment, but it isn't something we can fix within the near future. We need to find a way to discourage bottled water sale, but still have it available to people who need it.


  • "Bottled water - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. <>. (1)
  • "Bottled Water- Quenching a planet's thirst." CBC. N.p., 20 Aug. 2008. Web. 13 June 2012. < >. (2)
  • "The Canadian Bottled Water Industry Index Introduction." Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. < (4id=1171644581795 >. (3)
  • "Walkerton Tragedy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. <>. (4)
  • "BBC NEWS | UK | Soft drink is purified tap water." BBC News - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. <>. (5)
  • "Should city ban bottled water?: Yes -" News, Toronto, GTA, Sports, Business, Entertainment, Canada, World, Breaking - N.p., 12 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 June 2012. <>. (6)
  • Jemmott, Janet. "Bottled Water vs. Tap Water." Reader's Digest. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. < >.

Overall Expectation
Guiding Question
Level 4To an exceptional degree
Level 3To a considerable degree
Level 2To a moderate degree
Level 1To a limited degree
Not Yet
Use the methods and tools of geographic inquiry to locate, gather, evaluate and organize information about Canada's natural and human systems;
Have you used a variety of good sources and organized the information on your wiki into a clear background, and analysis?
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Communicate the results of geographic inquiries, using appropriate terms and concepts and a variety of forms and techniques;
Have you communicated your information in a clear way using many forms of data (maps/pictures/charts)?
Have you used terms from geography class to express your ideas?
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Report on Global issues that affect Canadians;
Have I explained how Bottled Water effects Canada's Economy
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Explain how global, econimic and environmental factors affect individual choices;
Have I reported how global water supply or bottled water is an issue
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Explain the relationship pf Canada's Renewable Resource to Canada's Economy
Have I explained what factors go into the choice to buy bottled water
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