The real costs of a plastic bottle

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Ever thought about the real costs of a plastic (water) bottle? Plastic water bottles have become a staple in many people’s daily routines, but the true cost of these convenient on-the-go bottles goes far beyond the price listed on the store shelf. In fact, the manufacture, economic, and environmental costs of plastic water bottles add up to a much higher price tag than we may realize. 

The actual costs of a plastic water bottle - not the one we pay in store

Bottled water cost is astounding when you think of how much you’re actually paying for production and distribution compared to the water itself. It’s even more shocking when you consider the negative effects it has on the environment at every stage of its existence (and the pre- and after existence). Each time you buy bottled water, you’re really paying for the plastic. Or rather, the costs associated with manufacturing said plastic. In fact, more than 90% of what you’re paying is for the bottle itself.  Think of what you could save if you only had to buy the water!

From the amount of energy and materials that are needed for plastic bottle production to the landfill waste that continues to pile up without decomposition, bottled water is costly. It is safe to say that it is cleaner for the environment to utilize reusable non-plastic bottles or use our Aquablu REFILL: a smart water tap and refill station that purifies water and adds important minerals and vitamins.

The economic costs of water bottles

According to a study by the Pacific Institute, the manufacture of plastic water bottles requires a significant amount of energy and resources. It takes three times the amount of water to manufacture a single bottle of water as it does to fill it, and the production process also generates greenhouse gas emissions in the form of CO2. In addition to the energy and resource costs, the transportation of bottled water adds to its carbon footprint. All of these factors contribute to the high economic cost of plastic water bottles.

The environmental costs

The environmental cost of plastic water bottles is perhaps even more concerning. Plastic bottles take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, and the production and disposal of these bottles contribute significantly to plastic pollution. In fact, it is estimated that only a small percentage of plastic water bottles are recycled, with the majority ending up in landfills or our oceans. The impact of plastic pollution on wildlife and ecosystems is well documented and can be devastating. If we don’t do anything about the plastic soup we’re currently in, there will soon be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Just imagine swimming in the sea together with Coca-Cola bottles, instead of marine life. 

What should we pay for a plastic bottle?

So, what should we be paying for a plastic water bottle?

While it is difficult to put a specific price on the true cost of these bottles if we take all the above factors into account, it is clear that the price we pay at the store is only a fraction of the actual cost. When we consider the resources and energy required to manufacture and transport the bottles, as well as the environmental impacts of plastic pollution, it is clear that the cost of a plastic water bottle is much higher than we may realize.

The costs of producing plastic bottles varies dramatically around the world, thanks mainly to differences in raw-material costs and energy prices.

The main type of plastic used, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), is made from naphtha, an oil derivative. This can be partly substituted with ethane, a natural-gas derivative. Ethane is not traded on a big scale internationally. For now, only the Middle East and America have relative cheap natural gas, making this a PET production Valhalla. 

Europe and Asia rely only on expensive naphtha. In these places the higher cost of fuel and electricity also push up production costs for plastic bottles. With the current gas prices goin through the roof  nowadays, the actual production costs are way – way higher.  

So, let’s do the math. What are the actual costs of a plastic water bottle? 

The real costs of a plastic bottle:

  • Three times the amount of water to produce one plastic bottle’s worth.
  • Five ounces of CO2 for every one ounce of PET.
  • One-quarter of a bottle of oil to fill, transport, cool, and dispose of a single bottle of water.

Plastic bottle vs. soda can

Are soda cans just as bad for our environment as plastic water bottles? What if we compare a Coca-Cola can with a plastic water bottle for example? 

In comparison, the cost of a soda can is much lower in terms of both manufacture and environmental impact. Soda cans are made from aluminum, which is a more easily recyclable material and requires less energy to produce and transport. While soda itself may have negative health impacts (hence, we have 5 healthy soda alternatives), the environmental cost of the packaging is significantly lower than that of plastic water bottles.


In conclusion, the real cost of a plastic water bottle is much higher than the price we pay at the store. The manufacture, economic, and environmental costs all add up to a much higher price tag, and the negative impact on the environment is a concern for all of us. Instead of relying on disposable plastic bottles, we can choose more sustainable options such as reusable water bottles or water refill stations using tap water. By considering the true cost of our choices, we can make more informed and environmentally responsible decisions.

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