NEWS

Bottled water monopolizes the market

Twenty years ago, people walking around town with a bottle of water were considered to be either tourists, or just excessively particular. Today, each resident of Greece consumes, on average, 60 liters of bottled water, sparkling or flat, a year. The little half-liter plastic bottle of water has become a necessary accessory for all commuters, shoppers and walkers, in an environment that is increasingly unfriendly, dry and commercialized. Once upon a time, to offer a visitor a glass of water was the least you could do to welcome them in your home. To ask for water in a store was nothing to be ashamed of and all long-distance bus service stations on the national road set out cups of water to quench travelers’ thirst. Today, water coolers are a rare sight and nature’s plain water has been privatized by 3E, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Ivi, Nestle and other bottling companies and a huge profit is being made. Bottled water is sold at prices over 1,000 times that of tap water, despite the fact that its quality is controlled. While tap water costs 36-55 cents per 1,000 liters, bottled water is sold at supermarkets for 45 cents for 1.5 liters. Water in a glass bottle may even reach a euro. At kiosks, the price ranges between 0.70-1 euro for a liter bottle (more expensive than unleaded gas), while at a restaurant, the price of a bottle of water can reach as high as 2-3 euros. This is not taking into account other high-profitability ventures, such as airports and other «luxury» places. Bottled water, in fact, bears the price of a luxury item, though it is consumed en masse and its quality is far from perfect. Indeed, a study published just last Thursday by the National Food Inspection Agency (EFET) shows that 6 percent of the samples taken showed high levels of bacteria, while 11.3 percent did not comply with the information on the label. This means that in many cases, we are paying 1,000 times more for a bottle full of bacteria or simple tap water. Bottled water, which used to be the answer to a specific need, is fast becoming the main means of obtaining drinkable water, and there has to be something very wrong in this.