Bottled Water, Brought to You by Fracking?

Yves here. New York City has good tap water, to the degree that it wins taste tests.

There are many options in the environmentally responsible water carrier vein, and as the article points out, you also steer clear of or at least minimize plastic nasties getting into your system. When possible, filter your water at home if you are worried about purity and “bottle” it yourself. This does put the onus on you to be organized.

By Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch. Originally published at Alternet

The link between fracking and the bottled water industry is one more reason to take back the tap.

The new Food & Water Watch report Take Back the Tap: The Big Business Hustle of Bottled Water details the deceit and trickery of the bottled water industry. Here’s one more angle to consider: The bottled water business is closely tied to fracking.

The report reveals that the majority of bottled water is municipal tap water, a common resource captured in plastic bottles and re-sold at an astonishing markup—as much as 2,000 times the price of tap, and even four times the price of gasoline. Besides being a rip-off, there is plenty more to loathe about the corporate water scam: The environmental impacts from pumping groundwater (especially in drought-prone areas), the plastic junk fouling up our waterways and oceans, and the air pollution created as petrochemical plants manufacture the materials necessary for making those plastic bottles filled with overpriced tap water.

There is a growing international awareness that plastic is a serious problem. In 2016, about 4 billion pounds of plastic were used in the bottled water business, and most of those bottles are not recycled—meaning they often end up in landfills or as litter. There’s also the matter of whether we should be putting our drinking water in those bottles in the first place: The most common packaging (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) includes compounds like benzene, and the bottles can leach toxins like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

But perhaps the biggest problem is where we get all this plastic in the first place. Many of the raw materials used to create those plastic bottles come from fracking. In addition to air and water pollution, the fracking boom has delivered an abundant supply of the hydrocarbon ethane, which is used in petrochemical manufacturing to create ethylene, which is turned into plastic.

One of the global powerhouses in this industry is a company called Ineos, which needs to expand fracking in order to keep profiting from plastics. To do this, massive “dragon ships” carry ethane from the United States to its facilities in Europe. The company wants even more of this raw material, which is one of the big reasons that Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners is building the Mariner East 2, a dangerous pipeline that will travel across hundreds of miles of the state of Pennsylvania. Getting more ethane means Ineos can turn more of those hydrocarbons into plastic, with the accompanying industrial pollution and carbon emissions we have come to expect from a company that has amassed a horrendous environmental record.

The corporate water business is a costly scam that affects our air, water, and climate. It robs communities of a resource that is a public good and must be treated as one, and it relies heavily on dirty fossil fuels to produce and transport a product that it sells at an extravagant markup. It rakes in billions of dollars while our public tap water infrastructure—that these companies benefit from—remains in desperate need of federal funding to provide all Americans with access to clean, affordable drinking water.

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  1. Pavel

    Separately, I just came across this in the Guardian:

    WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water:

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.

    In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.

    Concentrations were as high as 10,000 plastic pieces for every litre of water. Of the 259 bottles tested, only 17 were free of plastics, according to the study.

    Listeners of Harry Shearer’s LeShow know that microplastics has been a concern of his for some time. This generation is leaving a toxic, poisoned, destroyed planet for however many generations there are in the future. Or maybe it will just be the cockroaches at this point.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Non, no, there’s always hope! I just re-watched “WALL-E,” and I have SEEN THE FUTURE! A cute little autonomous robot janitor thingy, busily churning its/his way, via solar-electric power and amazingly durable engineering, through the immense piles of crap and detritus that us humans are coating the planet with, packing up the crap for “recycling,” and just waiting (though he didn’t know it) for that beautiful and incredibly weaponized and powerful female “probe” to appear, looking for that blade of grass that will indicate to the evil AI that mostly operates the Mother Ship where the bloated, self-indulgent remains of humanity circle in Muskspace, waiting for the signal that it’s Time To Go Home…

  2. david lamy

    Yves Smith does enjoy terrific tap water! It comes from upstate New York which has 20% of the fresh water that exists in the United States.
    I have a minor but important nit–the contamination of the municipal water supplies in the upstate region due to under regulated agencies (Department of Defense, for Newburgh) and petrochemical plants (Hoosick Falls and others).
    The supply aqueducts to NYC leak horrifically, the waste there alone could supply Orange and Ulster counties.
    When NYC residents talk about the environmental benefits of their walkable municipality; I think that water is something they take for granted but should not.

    1. bob


      This is a perfect example of where “waste” is unavoidable and possibly due to decisions made decades ago. The other option is to reduce the number of people in NYC.

      From ambrit’s link-

      “The project was authorized in 1954 and was imagined as “the greatest nondefense construction project in the history of Western Civilization.”[3] The city determined that it needed a third water tunnel so that Tunnels 1 and 2 could be closed for inspection and repairs.

      How do they fix it? Taking the ‘pipes’ out of service is not possible.

      Build another one? They started planning that in 1954 and started construction in 1970. it’s supposed to be complete in 2020.

  3. JTMcPhee

    Yess, all well and good, “we” should be “organized” like competent Homo Economici, and “bottle” our own water, so we can enjoy the quality public supplies from the New York system if we happen to live in the Big Apple. (If “we” happen to live in Flint, MI or any of the many other municipal and small local utility systems with “dated” plumbing — root word is “plumbum,” from the LEAD used in water pipes for hundreds of years going back to at least the Romans, well…) Put that water “from which all life begins,” in nice plastic or now stainless steel “purer” bottles, with little infantile nipples on them for us to suck on to “hydrate ourselves.”

    And “we” should “do something,” shouldn’t “we?”,about the Evil Frackers and the whole corporate interlocking system that ties “us” all, with our Consumer Preferences and Free Will Choices, to that very special water in those beautifully branded bottles made of plastic (and glass, for the more elegant and special brands). Or if we can afford it, how about some nice expensive Reverse Osmosis or other purification systems for our home use, made from mostly plastics, generating contaminated filter media or concentrated effluent, to be dumped into the sewer system and ‘treated’ along with the drinking water “we” use to flush “our” excreta into those massively expensive and complex wastewater treatment systems…

    And no mention at all in the article of the Nestle monster, that with a couple of other monsters is buying up all the “rights” to the “commons” in the area of ground(fossil-and-hydro-cycle) water, “all nice and legal, see?” Even where there’s a drought on, but the legislatures all hang out their “For Sale” signs in the best American tradition…

    A brief detour: when I worked for the US EPA, decades ago, the Water Division, through a Headquarters PR initiative (HQ came to be located at the Waterside Mall thanks to the intervention of VP Spiro Agnew, another bit of interesting corruption history if one cares to look it up) sponsored a nationwide taste preference test for blind tasting of drinking water from a bunch of sources. NY water was #2 as I recall, but #1 was New Orleans, which sucks its municipal supply from the Mississippi River downstream of a host of chemical plants, refineries, other municipalities and various compound and complex sources of “pollution.” Minimal treatment at the time. Interesting that the cultured palates of the “Ordinary Americans” from all over the country who took part as testers found that New Orleans microbrew to be superior to the Adirondack water in the NY pipes…

    So yaas, something should be done… I think I personally am going to re-watch “Soylent Green” and “Dr. Strangelove…”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What got into you? Did you get out on the wrong side of bed?

      This story is about the perils of bottled water, as in the kind in plastic bottles that you see tons of middle class and upper middle class using. The world got on just fine before the 1980s when this became A Thing and in particular seen not just as a convenience but healthier than tap water.

      The point is:

      1. Tap water is perfectly fine in most places in the US. There are filters of all sorts if you still worry about quality

      2. For people with bad water, the solution is not water in plastic bottles, It’s water in large glass containers. That goes for areas like Flint, where that would be the sensible way to deliver water until the municipal system is fixed (if evah, a separate issue). And yes, poor people in Flint are being screwed…but what does that have to do with the environmentally destructive and bad for you fetish among people of a certain class for bottled water?

      4. If you are a yuppie who insists on having water on your person, get reusable, environmentally safe packaging and fill it yourself.

      1. Scott1

        Bottled water arose post Chinese above ground atomic bomb tests that dropped plutonium fallout in the reservoirs that serve NYC.

        Bands & all other shows that tour the world take with them bottled water and drink the same brand wherever they go so they do not get sick from drinking water they have not developed immunities against.

        The scam whereby corporations take municipal waste water off the hands of cash strapped towns & cities, clean it, then sell it back at a profit, is well described in “Team Rodent”, -Carl Hiaasen.

        Federal Jobs Guarantee programs have as an obvious use of the available labor resource, cleaning up after the messes created by the public & the private sectors.

        World wide there is labor available to operate in the same way, doing necessary things.

        Since we resist a Government of Governments we resist any system which would work at cleaning the world up.

        There are people who read and contribute to Naked Capitalism who know how to engineer and design financial and economic system that could provide solution systems to the problems we all own together.

        I imagine a World Water Authority. I am sure I am not the only one.

        1. bob

          “World Water Authority”

          You just made wall st happy!

          I smell more muni bonds than the world has ever seen.

          The way we currently finance these projects is very outdated. The birth of the public-private domain. Underwriting the bonds (protecting private bondholders’ tax free income) with the ongoing need of people to have water.

  4. ambrit

    This sidesteps the issue of price versus ‘social costs.’ Plastic seems to be used because it is cheaper for the companies to use it instead of glass for packaging, specifically, bottles. Glass bottles used to be the norm. Extra layers of employment were built in to the glass bottle regime. Recycling, washing and reusing glass bottles was an entire economic niche now gone. People had jobs and, even though small, income available from scavenging and returning the bottles. Was the glass recycling carbon footprint larger than the single use plastic carbon footprint?
    The ‘Throwaway Culture’ has since expanded to include all sorts of ‘objects,’ like people of a ‘deplorable’ nature.
    We are injection molding our own coffins..

    1. JTMcPhee

      And in the accounting processes that drive all this, let us not forget that Generally Asinine Accounting Practices pretty much expressly exclude any considerations or line items that are derisively known as “externalities.” And since all the world’s just a ledger, soon to be blockchained to the millstone of Progress, ain’t no significant likelihood that there’s a Hope of Change. Or am i missing something important?

      1. ambrit

        No, I’m afraid you’re close there.
        My hope is that, when the ‘deplorables’ finally realize fully how bad they, we, are screwed, they’ll, we’ll, start ‘screwing’ back. That would require an organizing principle, or Principality if you will.
        Hey, if Heaven bars its’ gates to me, I’ll go and sign up with the other team.
        Milton had it right when he had Satan say: “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”
        Today, the celestial and the infernal regions have been exchanged for one another.
        I will even go a step further and say that, when one lives in a society based on barbarous precepts, civility is moot.

    2. cnchal

      Was the glass recycling carbon footprint larger than the single use plastic carbon footprint?

      With only intuition as a guide, I would say yes. Consider the energy required to make glass, transport it two ways, the water to clean it for reuse, which may be as much or more than what it was originally filled with.

      We are injection molding our own coffins..

      That’s only half the story. The threaded portion and neck are injection molded with a test tube type form below, which is then heated and inserted into a blow mold and blown into final shape.

      Personally, I drink tap water and every time I have a plastic cup of it, think of Flint. When traveling, I bring a couple of water bottles along, sometimes filled from the tap. It seems easy to condemn people that drink bottled water as ecologically unaware gluttonous bozos but at least it isn’t pop, which is the bulk of plastic bottles used.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The large glass containers to which I referred are typically used MANY times and hold way more water than a plastic bottle. So I don’t see why they are being treated as comparable.

        Plastic is not being recycled at current oil prices. Cheaper to make new.

        And the problems with plastic go way way beyond what it takes to recycle it. It’s a health risk in use, and is typically not recycled even when oil prices are higher, so it is poisoning the planet. Pacific ocean fish now have plastic in them.

        1. Lylr

          Note that today most of the 5 gal containers are plastic, which of course is better if dropped, no flood would occur.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Almost every study I’ve seen indicates that glass uses less energy than plastic when suitably re-used or recycled. From memory, the exception is for milk because to clean and reuse milk bottle requires super heated steam to remove all the milk proteins successfully.

  5. Wukchumni

    One of the many reasons we’re here, is that there is no industry whatsoever above us in the National Park, and we’re first in line to receive water as pristine as can be, from the upper reaches of our watersheds on high.

    The dividing lines are interesting. On top of the lowest point in the Great Western Divide at Kaweah Gap @ 10,689, everything on one side goes to the Kern River and everything on the other side to the middle fork of the Kaweah River, with additional east, north & south forks of the Kaweah, as well.

    A favorite spot, a few thousand feet below Kaweah Gap:

      1. Wukchumni

        To better clarify, nothing industrial on the ground in a radius of nearly 50 miles beyond us, across the High Sierra.

  6. Arizona Slim

    I have a dog in this fight. Here’s why:

    I grew up in Chester County, PA, which is now part of the Mariner East 2 pipeline route. My mother still lives in Chesco, and her house is within the pipeline evacuation zone. So is the grade school I attended for three years.

    People, my mother is 92, no longer drives, and is in no condition to self-evacuate if something happened with that pipeline. Furthermore, there are more than a few scenarios where there wouldn’t be enough time to evacuate.

    The good news is that many, many, MANY people are fighting against Mariner 2 East. And winning. Link:

    1. SimonGirty

      Thank you. We couldn’t believe this line was being laid so close to schools, hospitals & assisted living facilities. The silly facade of suddenly discovering these are NOT normal methane lines, halting construction pending review… then hurrying to complete installation the very second the politicians and media scurry elsewhere, is nothing new to PA, where it all began a century and a half ago. PS: If you’re reading this (say, in California) speciously oblivious to organic produce watered with return water, well more power to you!

    2. Cascadian

      AS — Every time I visit family in the Phoenix area I’m appalled by the tap water, for me its totally undrinkable. All of my family there buy their water in plastic bottles.

      Do you have any first hand experience with filtering or “reverse osmosis-ing” Phoenix tap water? I’m curious if its even possible to make the tap water there drinkable by filtering.

      1. meeps

        I know of someone in Tucson who filters his water through a silver lined clay pot. If I recall correctly, his model was made by Potters for Peace. Clay amphoras purify water in a similar fashion (and can be used passively for air conditioning—bonus!). Amphora makers can be found online, too. If you’d prefer a stainless steel vessel with internal filters, a US company called Berkey Water makes several sizes. My well water went all brown and funky the year of the Colorado floods and I used a Berkey to filter my tap water. It worked so well I continued to use it after the water returned to normal. I can’t offer any advice on reverse osmosis systems. It’s likely the most costly and complicated way to clean water so it’s not the route I’d choose first, but that’s just how I roll. Good luck to you.

          1. meeps

            Oh, I meant to mention I don’t have stock in any of these companies, so I’ve no stake in it. That’s funny about “preppers” though. I heard about Berkey via the tiny house community from people that didn’t strike me that way. I’m sure there are some.

  7. SimonGirty

    Hilarious. Everyone quoting Secretary Clinton’s TD Bank speech (paraphrasing Rick Berman talking points) were repeated hounded off Alternet (C&L, MoJo and Wonkette’s) comment threads, by David Brock’s trolls and some of us were posting as the Constitution Pipeline was being rolled, two years previously? The concept that anybody concerned about slickwater hydrofracking (we’re driving on radium-flavored brine again this winter) is a Rooski agent is hardly new. A Democrat governor decided return water could be watered down to be dumped into our streams; then proceeded to hire an Israeli counter-terrorism firm to spy on anysomebody who dared to protest… that began over a decade ago. CTR’s trolls really didn’t bother to create new identities from those they used as sockpuppets for K Street monstrosities like Energy in Depth. Just think about how convenient it’ll be in a couple years, as Shell’s ethane cracker fires up (across the Ohio from the first commercial nuclear reactor, by the Beaver reactors, with well-pads all around) and Nestle swipes local water sources to bottle, hopefully after some filtration?

    1. bob

      “we’re driving on radium-flavored brine again this winter”

      Yup. And probably paying very well for that privilege. Anyone anywhere within 100 miles (at a minimum) of fracking territory has that privilege.

      1. SimonGirty

        Well PA sure spreads it deep, especially around Harrisburg… nothing new I guess? If 850K folks around Pittsburgh are now drinking state-sanctioned watered down “produced water,” has anybody bothered to check Philly’s water for fracking fluid residue, it’s the other megalopolis drawing untreated water from the area. People were protesting this all during the 2009 G20 and nobody ever got their check from the Kremlin? Once all these wells start leaking (like Schlumberger predicted from jump) all you’d have to do is light a match and melt all the snow for decades? but, yeah… bet ya plastic bottles will be real cheap & water will be DEAR?

  8. Synapsid

    This article hits a low point in the use of “fracking” to mean Bad!, Be Scared!, Bad!

    Ethane is used to make polyethylene which is pervasive in everyday life. Ethane comes out of oil and gas wells whether they have been fracked or not.

    The bottled-water industry is a foul industry that targets ignorance and laziness. To paraphrase ol’ H L Mencken: No one ever went broke underestimating the ignorance of the American public.

  9. redleg

    A nit to pick:
    Fracking is sometimes done to potable water wells in tight (or non-) aquifers to increase yield. It is the same process as oil/gas wells except without the oil/gas specific additives.

    It’s important to specify what kind of wells when talking about fracking, because it’s a tool that can sometimes be put to good use. What wrecks drinking water supplies in the Marcellus shale region in NY/PA enhances drinking water supplies in the Sioux quartzite region in MN/SD.

    1. bob

      “It is the same process as oil/gas wells except without the oil/gas specific additives.”

      There are a few other big differences. The scale being number one.

      Water wells- a few hundred feet down, a few dozen per square mile. Drilled in a day.

      Oil and gas- thousands of feet down, dozens per square mile. Ongoing, resource intensive hogs requiring infrastructure, very large, specialized equipment and the armies of people that make it work, for decades (we’re onto number 2 now in the northeast!). Using the volume of the “wells”, oil/gas wells could represent easily 99% of the well volume in most in any given area.

      Number two- explosives. Lots and lots of explosives. Strings of thousands of them, for each well.

      These are discussions for the water well and oil well people to sort out. Fracking, as it is generally understood, within the context of oil and gas wells, is NOTHING AT ALL like what is done to water wells.

      A bow and arrow vs a fighter jet.

      1. redleg

        I am afraid that your perception of water wells is mistaken, at least in the corner of the world where I work. I was brought in on a 1000 ft well last month (that took several weeks to construct) where the question I had to answer was which specific intervals of the borehole were worth fracking. This is a potable water supply well, not irrigation, not geothermal, not industrial, etc., This is tap water. The alternative, blasting, is not usually effective in orthoquartzite and other development techniques do not work in crystalline rock. Remove the fracking option for water well development by legislating a “fracking is bad” ban and certain places will not have adequate potable water for their existing populations.

        So yes, there is a difference between oil/gas wells and water wells. But the main difference is scale, as the tools and methods are generally the same. When discussing fracking bans, or any legislation in general, it is very important to be specific to avoid unintended consequences.

        1. bob

          “where the question I had to answer was which specific intervals of the borehole were worth fracking”

          With fracked oil and gas, the whole horizontal part. Thousands of feet long. Very different. You’re aiming for that specific interval, then drilling into it, horizontally. A few feet of fracked area, verses hundreds of thousand of feet. Per well.

          “The alternative, blasting, is not usually effective in orthoquartzite and other development techniques do not work in crystalline rock.”

          So then, nowhere near where they are fracking for oil and gas. different geology. Blasting is not an alternative with oil and gas wells in shale. It’s the norm. Your well is not ‘normal’ and not representative of most “water wells” above shale.

          “Remove the fracking option for water well development by legislating a “fracking is bad” ban and certain places will not have adequate potable water for their existing populations.”

          Where has this ever happened? Anywhere?

          “But the main difference is scale”

          Yup. It’s a hell of a difference. Instead of ten days, it would be months. To just drill the wells. They drill 6-12+ wells from each well pad. They don’t want to move that equipment.

          Then they frack them.

          1. redleg

            You’ve made my point for me.

            The differences between these wells are obvious enough to hide the similarities.

            Creating a blanket ban of fracking without specifying exceptions for public use would adversely affect public water supplies in certain locations, which is opposite of the intent of a fracking ban. Piling on the irony, a complete ban would affect areas not directly impacted by oil extraction.

            After all, the environmental problem isn’t fracking- it’s oil extraction and use.

            1. bob

              You can’t read, I’ll help you, with links-

              ““It is the same process as oil/gas wells except without the oil/gas specific additives.”

              There are a few other big differences. The scale being number one.

              Here’s a link to that-


              “Creating a blanket ban of fracking without specifying exceptions for public use would adversely affect public water supplies in certain locations, which is opposite of the intent of a fracking ban. Piling on the irony, a complete ban would affect areas not directly impacted by oil extraction.”

              Again, since you seem to not be able to read, I’ll write it really big, and in all caps-


  10. The Rev Kev

    Bottled water came into Australia about twenty, thirty years ago because ‘markets’. I’m no greenie but I was appalled how so many people adopted them straight away and it even seemed trendy to do so. All your friends were doing it. Even if you are buying pure Tasmanian rain water, the whole idea of buying one-time use plastic bottles that have to be disposed of is monumentally stupid. Ambrit is right about our ‘Throwaway Culture’ and in a century’s time when they try to choose an object to represent this period and its extravagant waste, they could not do better than choosing this humble (if toxic) object.

  11. lyle

    Of course way back when we had canteens to carry water about, typically in the 1970 aluminum. Indeed you can still buy on amazon a replica of the canteen I used in geology field camp in 1972, except that the container is now plastic not al. (although al and even stainless steel versions are available). Way back when you filled them from the tap. In meetings bottled water is far cheaper to handle than handling plastic glasses (or even paper ones). and generates about as much trash. (Note now days all congressional hearing have water bottles, not the old pitcher and drinking glass)

    1. JTMcPhee

      Re congressional hearing room water bottles: Product placement, my dear…

      Like the Evian bottles Our Holy Troops carried around in Iraq Wars 1 and II etc,, from Evian! Successful placement, until somebody observed that “Evian” is “naive” spelled backwards.

      A couple of fun links:, and with more direct in your face corruption, this:,13319,156902,00.html

    2. redleg

      Fill it from the lister bag!

      The aluminum canteens are better because you can put them on the manifold for hot water.

      1. JTMcPhee

        For those who don’t know, “Lister bags” were made of tightly woven cotton, and supposed to provide a common source of “pure water” to “the troops” in bivouac. They sort of reduced the temperature of the water, great in hot climates like Vietnam, by evaporation from the water that worked through the fabric interstices. Did not work so well in Vietnam’s frequent 100%+ humidity. Also developed various species of parasitic amebas and bacteria, leading to the “troop trots.” And Vietnam-era bags were treated by the arms suppliers with ‘waterproofing” chemicals that added a delicate soupcon of Dow Chemical to the “safe drinking water supply.”

        Lister refers to Sir Joseph Lister, as in “Listerene,” who pushed for better antisepsis in surgery.

        Note that Listerene was once a surface disinfectant, not to be used for internal consumption, but now is a wonderfully branded, very successful “make me smell less human” consumer product…

    3. Lyle

      Note that even the botas now have a latex lining (meaning uncured rubber) (spanish wine skin originally from goat bladders Since these could leak this wikipedia article says lined with plastic: I suppose in at least one sense latex could be called a plastic all be it a more natural one.

  12. Expat

    There are typically more stringent controls on tap water than on bottled water. Bottled water is pure marketing with some key exceptions. I drink bottled water when I travel in the 3rd world for obvious reasons. I have even been to places where I put purification tablets into the bottled water because it frankly looked dodgy!
    A few amusing examples of the stupidity of bottled water:
    Daesani: Coca Cola’s marketing flop was tap water. In the UK the label had a small notation which read “FTW” which means “From Tap Water”. Thames Valley Water, filtered with minerals added, marked up several thousand times, bottled in nasty plastic.

    Perrier: “naturally carbonated”. Yep, except that the gas which makes the water sparkle is full of benzenes. So the natural gases are stripped from the water. The water is treated and purified and the gas is re-injected. Very “natural”.

    Fiji: Hey! Let’s pay $5 for 250 ml of water that was shipped ten thousand miles using heavy fuel oil as bunkers because everyone knows Fiji is environmentally friendly right? Right?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      At least one very expensive brand of Italian sparking water would be considered unfit for human consumption in Europe as tap water. It has a particularly high level of some natural minerals (I can’t quite remember which ones at the moment). But as its a ‘mineral’ water, this is considered acceptable.

  13. Afrikaan

    Linking bottled water to fracking in this way is pure scaremongering.

    To be clear where I stand on this: Fracking is stupid. Plastics pollute. We should stop fracking and start using plastic responsibly. Bottled water is convenient, but expensive and stupid.

    Yes, ethane is a feedstock to the plastics industry. Yes, fracking is a source of ethane, but ethane is recovered from any source of natural gas, including Saudi oilfields.

    Ethane is not only used in producing PET, but overwhelmingly for producing polyethylene, which is used mostly to produce film for plastic bags, not beverage bottles.

    The greatest source of microplastics in water is not bottles, but fibers from fabrics.

    Manufacturing outrage against the fracking industry by mining the plastic bottle guilt/blame conflict of the middle classes injects dishonesty into the pressure we need to build against fracking. Every lie or distortion in a movement, no matter how well-intentioned, is ammunition to the opposition.

    I’ll be the first one to say that we have to develop a responsible approach to using plastics, but can we have an informed, nuanced discussion, please?

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