FAQs — Disposable Water Bottles

Disposable water bottles are recyclable. Why do they create negative impact to the environment?

In Canada, only approximately 70% of plastic bottles end up being recycled. The remaining 30% end up in landfills where they take centuries to break down. Plastic bottles also make up 90% of all floating litter in the oceans and shorelines.

In addition, it takes large amounts of electricity, oil and water to produce plastic bottles. Each year in Canada, the equivalent of 1.2 million barrels of oil of energy is used to produce plastic bottles, causing the release of 166,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (the most common greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. It also takes between 1.3 and 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water. Although it is important to always recycle plastic bottles, the best strategy to reduce our ecological footprint is to avoid purchasing them by bringing your own reusable bottles, or to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles purchased whenever possible.

How much bottled water do Canadians drink each year?

Canadians drink an average of 2.29 billion liters of bottled water each year. That makes up 11% of the entire soft drink industry in Canada. With a current population of 35,160,000, that averages to 65 liters per person each year.

Can I reuse a disposable plastic water bottle?

No, Health Canada does not recommended that you reuse disposable water bottles. Health Canada’s studies on reusing disposable water bottles have found that it poses a microbiological risk. Depending on the source of the water and the general hygiene of the user, potentially hazardous bacteria can build up very quickly inside the bottle.

Isn’t bottled water cheaper and more convenient than tap water?

The cost of purchasing bottled water can range from $0.20 to over $3.00 per 500mL bottle. The cost of municipal tap water varies in each municipality. In the Region of Peel, the rate is just $0.000535 per 500mL and $0.000488 per 500mL in Oakville. This makes tap water between 370 and 6200 times cheaper!

At all Sheridan campuses, you don’t have to wait in line and spend over $2.00 on water. Free, clean, fresh, and cool water is available anytime at the bottle refilling stations and water fountains. Located in almost every building at every campus, our fountain water is the cheapest and most convenient option as a source of drinking water for everyone on campus.

Isn’t bottled water safer than tap water?

Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drugs Act of Canada, which states that bottled water is classified as a food product and therefore must be free of all potentially hazardous contaminants. In comparison, municipal tap water (which goes to Sheridan’s Refill stations) is regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets stringent maximum acceptable concentrations for over 300 different contaminants. In the greater Toronto area, municipalities test for all of these contaminants every 4 to 6 hours. Although Health Canada states that both bottled water and tap water are exceptionally safe to drink, tap water has stricter regulations.

What has Sheridan done to reduce the ecological footprint caused by bottled water?

Sheridan has installed more than 60 Elkay Reusable Water Bottle Stations and drinking water fountains at all 4 campuses. With a reusable water bottle, you can get free, clean, and cool water almost anywhere on your campus. Since the installation of these water stations, Sheridan has prevented the purchase of 1,600,000 plastic bottles. That’s 16 tonnes of plastic, equal to the weight of three adult elephants!

To produce this much plastic, it would have taken:
• 75,000 kWh of electricity
• 110 barrels of oil
• 240,000L of water

Equivalent to:
• Powering 6 homes for a year
• Driving around the world 4 and a half times
• Taking 3,700 showers

What can I do to reduce my ecological footprint?

By bringing your own reusable water bottle and using the bottle refilling stations and water fountains at your campus, you can reduce the number of plastic bottles purchased on campus. As a result, less energy, oil and water will be used, and a less carbon dioxide will be emitted to the atmosphere.

Zero Waste Gets Real - Water Bottle Facts infographic.
Closeup of a reusable water bottle getting refilled.