Plastic water bottles may be drying up, says Wall Street Journal

Illustration for article titled Plastic water bottles may be drying up, says Wall Street Journal
Photo: AndreBlais (iStock)

The bottled water industry is seeing a downturn, reports The Wall Street Journal. As consumers become more mindful about use of single-use plastic items like straws and utensils, single-serving water bottles have also dropped in popularity: “A consumer backlash against disposable plastic plus new government mandates and bans in places such as zoos and department stores have the world’s biggest bottled-water makers scrambling to find alternatives.”


Earlier this year, Evian pledged to switch to an all-recycled bottle by 2025, up from its current status of 30 percent. But that capability, WSJ notes, is not really there yet: “There’s a big problem. The industry has tried and failed for years to make a better bottle.” Recycled supplies of clean, clear plastic remain scarce.

The industry previously saw amazing growth of 284 percent between 1984 and 2017, as bottled water surged in popularity. Single-serving bottles still make up two-thirds of U.S. sales. But images of overflowing landfills and ocean pollution have lessened consumers’ appetite for the convenience of those bottles, leading many to finally invest in a reusable daily water bottle: “Nestlé SA, the world’s biggest bottled-water maker, in October said its bottled-water volumes for the first nine months of the year declined 0.2 percent.”

Many places—like some offices, zoos, and parks—have stopped selling bottled water altogether. Some companies are turning to boxed water, or glass, in an attempt to get over the plastic hump. Others are still desperately trying to make an environmentally viable, fully recyclable plastic bottle, or at least a plastic bottle that uses a larger portion of recycled material. Interested water drinkers can learn more about this process over at the WSJ today.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.


Roland Tembo

You’re only really paying for the bottle anyway, and the writing has been on the wall about plastic packaging for years. The obvious choice is aluminum, but they’re way late getting into the canned water market.

I bet we see an non-carbonated/flavored LaCroix Pure (tm) or somesuch before these bottled brands can get their act together