23 Plastic Water Bottle Pollution Facts That Will Shock You

plastic water bottle facts
5 min reading time

How harmful is plastic water bottle pollution? Pretty bad if you consider that 100 million plastic bottles are used each year globally.

Most of these plastics end up in our environment since the recycling rate is still relatively low. In the U.S. alone, only 30% of plastic bottles are recycled. Below are 23 facts about plastic water bottle pollution that you did not know.

1. Each day, people in the U.S throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles.

Most of those bottles end up in landfills or as litter in American streets, parks, and waterways (Healthy Human, 2022).

2. The average American drinks an average of more than 30 gallons of bottled water a year. That means it takes 90 gallons of water just for one person to drink bottled water since it takes three times the amount of water in a bottle of water to make it as it does to fill it.

In a world where 783 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water, that’s half of what one person would need for an entire year (Healthy Human, 2022).

3. Americans drink more bottled water than milk or beer a year.

Americans’ water consumption increases by 10% each year (Healthy Human, 2022).

4. 80% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills in the U.S.

It takes up to 1000 years for every bottle to decompose. Each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into the environment as it decomposes (Healthy Human, 2022).

5. Studies demonstrated that the toxins released from decomposing bottles of water leach into the environment and cause various health issues.

Health issues include reproductive problems and cancer (Healthy Human, 2022).

6. Plastic water bottles are made from a petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

It requires enormous amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport (Health Human, 2022).

7. Producing bottled water requires 17 million barrels of oil a year.

That is slightly more than it would take to fill one million cars a year with fuel (Health Human, 2022).

8. Only 30% of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S.

Norway recycles 97% (Parker, 2019).

9. Plastic bottles kill marine creatures.

Since there are no regulations for the disposal of plastic water bottles, they often lie everywhere and anywhere. They end up in landfills but are also washed into the ocean. When they do, they kill up to 1.1 million marine creatures every year (Simply Eco, 2022).

10. More than 100 million plastic bottles are used globally every day (The World Counts, 2022).

11. Antimony can be found in PET plastic bottles.

Antimony causes dizziness, depression, and even death (The World Counts, 2022).

12. Plastic bottles also contain Bisphenol A, which has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and cancer (The World Counts, 2022).

13. While plastic bottles may be BPA-free, there are other chemicals in the bottles, such as phthalates.

Phthalates can seep into the drink and be harmful to your health (The World Counts, 2022).

14. In the U.K., 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year, with the average person in the U.K. now using 150 plastic water bottles every year.

That is more than three a week. Many are discarded and pollute rivers and seas (Water U.K., 2022).

15. If 1 in 10 British refilled their plastic bottles just once a week, 340 million plastic bottles would be saved in a year (Water U.K., 2022).

16. Every week, it takes 40,000 18-wheeler trucks on America’s road just to deliver bottled water (Health Human, 2022).

17. Each year, over 800 000 metric tons of pollutants are emitted by facilities that make new plastic water bottles.

Production requires a lot of fossil fuels (Arcadia, 2017).

18. Discarded plastic does more than polluting the environment by itself since it can absorb organic pollutants already out there.

This increases pollution in the water and the soil, which is eventually ingested by animals when they drink water that may contain plastic particles that are too small for them to see. Moreover, about one-tenth of plastic created ends up in the ocean and even at the bottom of the sea. Much of it comes from water bottles (Arcadia, 2017).

19. Americans bought 42.6 billion plastic water bottles 1 gallon or smaller in 2010.

That is up from 35.5 billion in 2006, 23.6 billion in 2004, and 2.8 billion in 1996 (Arcadia, 2017).

20. A consumer report analysis discovered that people can spend $346 on bottled water per year but would otherwise only spend 48 cents on the same amount of tap water (Arcadia, 2017).

21. Water quality and water sources have very little to do with the price of bottled water.

In fact, 90% of the cost is the packaging, which includes the plastic manufactured to contain the water and the labeling created by the seller to brand it (Arcadia, 2017).

22. Fossil fuels are also burnt when bottled water is transported.

Most of the time, bottled water is delivered by truck, ship, or rail, modes of transportation that contribute a significant amount of pollutants to the air (Arcadia, 2017).

23. Combining all the energy input totals, producing bottled water requires between 5.6 to 10.2 million joules of energy per liter.

It depends on transportation factors; a typical personal-sized water bottle is about 0.5 liters. That is up to 2000 times the energy required to produce tap water, which costs about 0.005 million joules per liter for treatment and distribution (Zyga, 2009).


While water is a basic necessity, there are more sustainable ways of meeting this need. Consider using reusable water bottles to help reduce the amount of plastics reaching landfills. The fight against plastic is a tough one, and every action counts.

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