Think More



Watson's Distilled Water
Plastic Bottle


What is Hong Kong people’s favourite drink?


According to the sales data in 2017, the most popular drink in Hong Kong is not tea, not juice, not soft drinks nor energy drinks.. but water!

Between 2013 and 2017, except soft drinks, all beverages had an increment in their sales. And the water had the biggest boots at its sales. (Source:Euromonitor/ Deloitte analysis

It is good that Hong Kong people love to drink water. Unfortunately, they drink bottled water.


Finishing a bottle of water, do we only consume the water
contained in the bottle?

No, the water we will consume when drinking bottled water is never just the water we see in the bottle. Tap water is also consumed during production. For instance, according to the sustainability report written by Swire Coca-Cola HK, every liter of beverage produced would require 1.74 liters of water. This ratio is considered as not bad among the industry. But imagine for every cup of water you drink, more than a half cup of water is poured away……

In addition to consuming water, the process also consumes crude oil that is precious and non-renewable to make the plastic bottles. Crude oil extraction and purification, production, and delivery of plastic bottles will also pollute the environment. And if the plastic water bottles are not recycled properly after use, they might end up in the ocean and soil. They will then enter the food chain, and destroy the Earth’s ecosystem eventually.


Who will be pleased when more water is consumed?

When you drink more water, your mother who cares about your living and the doctor who cares about your health will be pleased.

Drinking more plastic bottled water, beverage manufacturers would be blissful.

Let’s do some math —

The Water Supplies Department supplies water to citizens as well as beverage manufacturers.

Water for commercial usage costs $4.58 per 1,000L. If 1,000L of water is used to fill the commonly seen 700mL plastic bottles, excluding the water consumed during production, 1,000 Lof water can fill up 821 bottles. And each bottle is sold at $4 in the market (referencing the distilled water prices from the Consumer Council), worthing $3284 in total.

After some business processes, the price of 1,000L of water is inflated from $4.58 to $3284, and at the same time creating 821 plastic bottles wastes on our planet.

As these wise businessmen are making great profits, when will they start to consider the huge environmental cost?

By the way, in Hong Kong, other than local distilled water that its price inflates from $4.58 to $3284, people can also buy bottled water from France, where it is 9,600 kilometers away from Hong Kong.

The label on the bottle indicates that water is “filled at the origin”. Water is extracted from the Clairvic Spring located at the cent of France, and then it is imported to Hong Kong through a Taiwanese agent. When you finally get the water, it has already gone through thousands of miles… And yet, you finish it in a few gulps.

That is why we should never overlook the embedded carbon footprints when we are calculating the entire cost.


Campaign against plastic bottled water


Why do we focus on opposing plastic bottled water but not juice, soft drinks, or tea…?

Apart from the impressive sales of bottled water,

another main reason is that water can be obtained without any plastic bottles!

Have you ever heard of Bundanoon? The population of this small town is less than 3,0000. It locates in New South Wales in the southeastern part of Australia, with nice scenery of rolling mountains. In 2009, it gained a spot on the International news as the “first place in the world to ban plastic bottles”.

It all began when a beverage company from Sydney announced to build a pumping station there which enraged the locals. At first, people were worried about the heavy-duty trucks that may disturb the town’s peacefulness. However, once you start thinking, you could never stop until people saw the absurdity of using plastic bottles. Businessmen would come to the town and draw the town’s groundwater. Water would then be delivered to the big city far away from the town where they packaged it. Bottled water would be sold everywhere, even locals from Bundanoon would have to pay for it. Some townsmen said: “If we don’t want the pumping plant, maybe we shouldn’t sell plastic bottled water in the first place.”

On the day of the town hall meeting, 356 residents were present. All, except one, agreed on banning the selling of plastic bottled water. They protested against the beverage company, and also became the town’s environmental enlightenment, which drew much attention from local and foreign media.

In the end, was the pumping plant in Bundanoon successfully built? Sadly, we could not find any information on the internet (if you know anything about it, please inform us). All we know is, the “Bundy on Tap” movement against the pumping plant had brought a lot of changes to the town. For example, the town had installed more water drinking fountains, and many shops installed tap water filters and opened them for public use. The town also gained support from their governor of New South Wales, who even banned all government departments under her from buying plastic bottled water with public funds a few hours before the town meeting.

This became the pride of the town.

Finally, in 2016, San Francisco took over Bundanoon’s pride and went a step further. Not only did they ban plastic bottled water, but they also set a penalty. They committed to being a “zero waste city” by 2020. As for Taipei, though the mayor Ko Wen-je didn’t set up any legislation, he advocates that he was against plastic bottled water. He promised, “Once the water is safe to drink everywhere in Taipei, the government will phase out bottled water gradually.”. Currently, 90% of their MRT Stations have drinking water dispensers and the city hall has created a “TRC” labelled online map to promote the culture of using drinking water dispensers They also banned primary and secondary schools from selling plastic bottled water.


What did Hong Kong do?

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR Government has announced that they will install water dispensers in all government venues in the 2018 “Policy Address”. The preliminary goal is to install 500 new dispensers within three years, in which there will be 3,200 publicly accessible dispensers in total. In addition, it will gradually ban the selling of plastic bottled water at government venues.

We have been following the water dispenser plan and have received a reply from the Environment Bureau on 26th November 2019: “The engineering departments are undergoing detailed technical feasibility studies, as well as installing dispensers at suitable locations. Depending on the technical feasibility studies and the installation progress, the government plans to install 100 water dispensers in the first quarter of 2020. The remaining 400 dispensers will be installed during the following two years in phases."

Let us monitor the government and hope its promise won’t be postponed again and again…

At the same time, the local communities have started to have some actions and plans. An environmental NGO “Water for Free” is established to propose the installation of more water dispensers. They also developed a “Water for Free” apps with the local communities. Following the trend of banning plastic bottled water at universities around the world, The University of Hong Kong has banned the selling of plastic bottled water on campus since 2017.





When you were a primary student, there must be a reusable water bottle in your school bag. Since when did you lose that habit? Why?