The demand for clean potable water is rising exponentially in the UAE and other countries part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) owing to the rapid urbanization and population growth in the region. Bottled water sector is leading in the beverage industry, accounting for 56% of the GCC beverage market. The UAE had been ranked the eighth largest per-capita consumer of bottled water in the world owing to high temperatures, low rainfall, and increasing demand with increasing population. Excessive use of bottled water is not just a hazard to public health due to release of harmful chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A) present in plastics but also an environmental hazard posing severe threat to the ocean and marine life. SaniWater’s new blog series titled “Bottled Water Series” will cover various elements of the bottled water industry starting from –1) factors contributing to rise of bottled water and impact of bottled water on human health, and 2) manufacturing process of bottled water and environmental impacts of bottled water. Sani Water has been at the forefront of providing their customers with the latest research topics in the drinking water industry that are applicable on a regular basis. With “Bottled Water Series”, Sani Water aims to educate and inform their customers about the severe health and environmental impacts of using bottled.
FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO BOTTLED WATER CONSUMPTION IN THE UAE
The UAE is the world’s 8th largest consumer of bottled water.. Some preliminary factors contributing to this high rising demand can be summarized as follows:
- The UAE bottled water market is being driven by the rising demand for potable water due to a growing awareness of waterborne diseases.
- The market is also being aided by the under-developed public water infrastructure within the region, leading to increased consumption of bottled water.
- The rising number of hotels and resorts in the UAE region is providing further impetus to the industry growth, especially for its premium segment.
- The rise in urbanization and a booming population is propelling the industry forward in the region.
- The increase in disposable income is also aiding the market growth.
HEALTH IMPACTS OF BOTTLED WATER
Studies show that many consumers associate bottled water with healthy living. But bottled water is not guaranteed to be any healthier than tap water. In fact, roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water; often the only difference is added minerals that have no marked health benefit. Additionally, plastic bottles contain the contaminant BPA. Studies indicate that exposure to BPA can cause reproductive disorders, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and impact body weight. Environmental exposure to BPA has the potential to affect the developing brain during gestation, according to research. Most bottled water brands claim they are made of BPA-free plastic.
Alternatively, bottled water is sold in plastic #1, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Research shows that PET may be an endocrine disruptor, altering our hormonal systems. Although this type of plastic is BPA free, phthalates in bottles can still seep into your water, especially when exposed to high temperatures or stored for an extended period.
Bacterial contamination is a particular concern when reusing disposable plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles are notoriously difficult to clean — their small crevices make it hard to get brushes, rags, or sponges into them. Because they are challenging to clean, plastic bottles can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria. The moist environment allows microorganisms to flourish. And if you drink from your water bottle while you are eating food, food residues can adhere to the bottle and promote further bacterial growth. Bacteria can impart an unpleasant taste or smell to your water, and it may cause gastrointestinal illness.