Why are sales and exports of UK-sourced bottled water spiking while river levels struggle?

The Environment Agency (EA) has licensed organisations to remove up to 18 billion litres of water every year to package and sell in bottles, an ENDS investigation has found.

While the EA’s leadership team issued stark warnings that demand for water could outstrip supply within 20 years, the amount of bottled water sent out of the country shot up by more than half (57%) between 2010 and 2018, to 628,000 tonnes, according to an analysis of HM Revenue & Customs figures. 

And despite the ongoing campaign to get people to use less water and fewer single-use plastics, sales of bottled water within the UK rose by 7% in 2018 to 4.3 billion litres compared with 2017, according to food and drink consultancy Zenith Global, with UK-sourced water making up 84% of the volume. 

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