Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

Single-use plastic water bottles are clogging our oceans, rivers, streets, landfills and poisoning our air when they're burned in incinerators. And in most parts of the United States, they’re completely unnecessary as tap water is an affordable, safe and good-tasting way to stay hydrated without generating huge amounts of unnecessary single-use plastic pollution.

Consider the following stats:

At least 15 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year; experts predict that there will be one pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish by 2025 and that plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050 unless we change course soon.

One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. As of 2021, more than half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold annually. At best, less than 1/3 of all plastic bottles will be recycled. So by using a reusable water bottle, you could prevent an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.

There’s also the question of all the money and resources that go into “making” bottled water and transporting it. The total energy required for bottled water production is as much as 2,000 times the energy needed to produce tap water. Producing just one liter of water bottled in PET plastic requires three liters of water, a significant waste of natural resources and contributor to climate change.

Bottled water also costs hundreds of times more than tap water to produce. Tap water cost less than half a penny per gallon, while bottled water cost an average of $1.11 per gallon in 2016.

We also have to consider both the quality and the potential health impacts of bottled water. A recent report on water quality in the U.S. concluded that the majority of the nation's water supply is reliable and high quality. Based on blind tests by the media, most people actually prefer the taste of tap water to bottled water. But taste is not everything…


A recent study found microplastics contamination in a stunning 93% of the globally-sourced bottled waters they tested at levels two times higher than those they'd previously recorded in tap water samples. We are all ingesting roughly a credit’s card worth (5 grams) of plastic each week with as yet unknown effects on our health.

But it’s not all bad news. More and more people, businesses and organizations are catching on to bottled water’s negative impact on our environment and health and making changes to prevent this needless source of single-use plastic pollution and microplastics contamination.

For example, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) banned the sale of plastic water bottles in all of its concessions beginning in August 2019, adding more water refilling stations to quench travelers' and staff members' thirst. Huzzah!

Installing additional water fillers and water fountains and banning the sale of water bottles can be done everywhere from your office building to the DMV to the train station to the hospital to government office buildings, and beyond.



Consider joining our campaign urging the NY-NJ Port Authority to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles at all their facilities. Along with 40 other organizations, we’re calling on Port Authority to follow SFO’s lead and ban these needless and harmful bottles. Hearing from travelers in their facilities which include LaGuardia, Newark, JFK and Stewart airports as well as their bus terminals is crucial.

You may also try to pass an executive order in your state or county prohibiting the use of government funds to purchase single-use plastic water bottles. Check out the following two examples of executive orders from New York State and New York City, respectively.


Check out our handy Plastic Water Bottles Fact Sheet – available to download as a PDF.


Like facts? (We do.) Want to arm yourself with more information? We recommend reading the two reports below to help you make your case:


Replace The Plastic Bottles In Vending Machines With Cans!


“Chemical Recycling” Is A FALSE SOLUTION