Bottled water is America's most popular beverage, dethroning carbonated soft drinks in 2016. Sales have soared in recent years because of consumer worries about tap water quality and concerns about sugary drinks. According to Beverage Marketing Corp., U.S. consumption of bottled water skyrocketed 284% between 1994 and 2017, reaching nearly 42 gallons per person each year.
Most of that growth comes from single-serve plastic bottles that make up about two-thirds of U.S. sales, The Wall Street Journal reported. But such packaging comes with big sustainability problems. According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic beverage bottles are the third most common item washing up on beaches, right after cigarette butts and food wrappers. Also, producing plastic bottles takes three times the amount of water that’s contained inside them, and only about 30% of plastic bottles are recycled.