Tap vs. Bottled

What’s the difference between tap water and bottled water? From cost to quality, there are many reasons to Choose Tap.

In the last decade, locally sourced water—provided by award-winning utilities like Spartanburg Water—has faced mounting competition from a beverage industry that has discovered the money-making power of pre-packaged water. Despite the high quality and value that can be found by simply turning on your kitchen faucet, bottled water, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), continues to be the #1 beverage in an already-crowded marketplace—all to the tune of nearly $13 billion in annual sales.

A majority of pre-packaged water is sold in individual bottles, and the costs quickly add up when you crunch the numbers in gallons. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, if you buy a gallon’s worth of bottled water in the average-sized 16.9-ounce bottles traditionally found in the marketplace, that same water costs you $7.57 per gallon. That’s 3,785 times more than you’d pay for the same amount of water from the tap in your home.

But the most popular bottled waters sold in supermarkets and convenience stores are, in fact, tap water. In fact, according to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), an independent group of health and environmental advocates, more than a quarter of the entire bottled water market is tap water that is sourced from our nation's water utilities. However, the true sources for these brands are not always listed on the label, so that percentage could be even higher.

The downstream costs and headache of plastic bottles extends to our nation's landfills, as well. According to The Water Project, four out of five plastic water bottles are not recycled, creating environmental hazards that can easily be avoided by switching to a refillable water bottle.

Probably the most striking difference between tap and bottled waters is how each is regulated: While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces policy for water utilities, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the bottled water industry. Tap water must be disinfected and filtered, as well as analyzed for a variety of substances that bottled water providers aren’t required to test in their own water sources, according to research by the NRDC.

We're grateful that you stopped by Choose Tap to learn more about what role you can play to help change the conversation about tap water. You'll save money and help the environment by your commitment to Choose Tap.

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