Plastic bottled water market set to grow by over 10% in four years

Campaigners are calling for restrictions on plastic bottled water advertising, as a new report finds that big water bottle brands are forecast to grow by more than 10% in the next four years.

The research, which was commissioned by campaign groups Refill and Whale and Dolphin Conservation as well as the water filter firm Brita, found that 90% of bottled water is sold in supermarkets, with over half of it being consumed at home or at work.

This is despite the impact of television shows such as the BBC’s Blue Planet, which brought home the risk of plastic to marine life. More than 170 trillion plastic particles are currently afloat in the world’s oceans, with overall plastic consumption projected to nearly double by 2050.

Conducted by Retail Economic, the report drew particular attention to the extent to which brand advertising has played a part in the success of the bottled water market, with 81 million branded bottles being sold in 2022 as a direct result of advertising and marketing tactics.

In addition to the plastic waste being created, this also meant around 440 billion grams of carbon emissions (equivalent to that of 262,000 cars) were created by the industry.

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While sales show no signs of slowing down, more than three quarters of consumers felt that bottled water companies should raise more awareness of plastic pollution when advertising.

Retail Economics ceo Richard Lim said: “In less than a century between the mid-1970s and 2021, the UK bottled water consumption increased from just one 300ml can per head, to 37 litres per head, in great part thanks to the industry’s efforts to associate the product with desirable and aspirational connotations.”

“It’s clearer than ever that we need to make changes to turn the tide on the issue before it’s too late.”

The report also showed that people largely chose bottled water for convenience and availability rather than taste. Initiatives such as the Mayor of London’s new Refill App, which helps Londoner’s locate fountains, cafés, restaurants or pubs where they can refill a bottle with tap water, are seeking to tackle the problem.


MarketingMaterials and packagingNature and the environmentNews

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