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Bottled Water Has High Environmental Costs

Bottled Water Has High Environmental Costs

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - Bottled water, the world's fastest growing beverage, carries a heavy environmental cost, adding plastic to landfills and putting pressure on natural springs, the author of a new report said on Thursday.

"Bottled water is really expensive, in terms of environmental costs and economically," said Ling Li, who wrote the report for the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

While many in developed countries thirst for safety, cleanliness, taste and social cachet when they buy bottled water, more than 1 billion of the world's poorest lack access to clean drinking water, bottled or not.

And in developed countries, bottled water may be scrutinized using lower standards than plain tap water, the report said.

The environmental impact can start at the source, where some local streams and underground aquifers become depleted when there is "excessive withdrawal…