The main consumer sustainability benefit attributed to use of the HiFlow Inline Mains Water Filter System is a cost-effective, efficient alternative to bottled water* for those who are not happy with the taste, healthiness and quality of their tap water. The Australian distributor Water Filters Australia says the HiFlow system can be installed easily in the household or work environment (a plumber may be required) and will deliver filtered water at a much lower cost per litre than bottled waters. The filters don’t remove fluoride and natural minerals and salts from the water, but are rated to reduce health-threatening parasitic cysts such as cryptosporidium and giardia.
There is a widely-recognised environmental problem associated with the purchase and use of plastic water bottles, which are typically derived from oil, can be transported long distances, often end up being dumped in landfills, and make a negative contribution to greenhouse gas pollution. While some bottled water is at best only purified tap water, there also are very significant environmental concerns about extraction of natural spring or mineral water depleting underground aquifers. Veteran environmental campaigner Jeff Angel, Director of the Sydney-based Total Environment Centre, told the Sydney Morning Herald (Disaster in a bottle, April 24, 2007): ‘Bottled water is a disaster, for several reasons: First there’s the issue of the sustainability of underground aquifers, from where much of the bottled water is drawn. And then there’s the carbon footprint. Water is heavy, and transporting it around the world uses a lot of energy.’
Consumer confidence in the quality and health status of tap water, along with taste and aesthetic issues such as discoloration, are significant issues in the trend towards higher levels of consumption of bottled water in Australia. These consumer concerns apply to mains water supply in many communities and also are likely to become an increasingly significant issue for rainwater tanks, thus influencing consumers strongly whether or not actual health problems exist with their tap water.
The following ‘facts’ assembled from a variety of websites by an Australian Museum-hosted blogger are typical of the information emanating from environmental campaigners and academic research, and being reported in mainstream media as well as the blogosphere:
- Over 400,000 barrels of oil is used per year in Australia to manufacture the plastic to make the bottles
- Out of all plastic bottles only about 30% are recycled
- Tap water costs 1 cent per litre compared to bottled water which costs $2.53 per litre
- It takes seven litres of water to make a one litre water bottle
- There are 200 billion litres of bottled water consumed worldwide costing consumers an estimated $100 billion.