USA – The amount of material used to make PET, HDPE and glass water bottles fell by more than 40% between 2007 and 2015, according to a report into the environmental footprint of North America’s bottled water industry.

Commissioned by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the report found that total bottle material per gallon of bottled water – excluding labels and caps – was 73.9g in 2015, down 42.8% from 129g eight years earlier.

It also found positive performance on greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, and the production of solid waste.

“The environmentally aware actions of bottled water companies, such as light-weighting our containers, using more recycled PET (rPET) in bottle production and increasing curbside recycling rates have impacted the environmental footprint of the industry in a positive way,” said Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications.

“Bottled water is America’s favourite packaged drink, and it also has the least impact on the environment compared to other packaged beverages.

So, consumers who are drinking bottled water instead of other packaged drinks are making a healthy choice and also reducing the impact on the environment.”

Sources indicate that the bottled water industry generated 288,000 metric tonnes of solid waste in 2015, just 0.1% of the US total of waste generated.

In 2016, for the first time in history, bottled water consumption outpaced carbonated soft drinks to become the most widely consumed beverage in the US.

Preliminary 2017 figures also indicate bottled water’s popularity is continuing to grow, and according to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), consumers are drinking bottled water instead of other less healthy beverages.

Consumption of bottled water climbed from 27.6 gallons per person in 2006 to 39.3 gallons in 2016, and during that same period consumption of carbonated soft drinks dropped by 11.9 gallons per person.

“The bottled water industry is also an efficient water user,” Culora continued.

“Minimising water use has long been a part of the bottled water industry’s legacy of protecting, maintaining, and preserving water resources for future generations.

The bottled water industry is continually developing new and innovative ways to conserve this precious resource.”