International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) carried out water use benchmarking study to evaluate water use efficiencies and trends among North American bottlers. In the study, IBWA tried to figure out how much water goes into producing 1 liter of water.
North American companies use 1.39 liters to make 1 liter of water. That's less than the global averages of,
1 liter of soda = 2.02 liters of water
1 liter of beer = 4 liters of water
1 liter of wine = 4.74 liters of water
1 liter of hard alcohol = 34.55 liters of water
But water activists say IBWA's study wasn't comprehensive enough. Bottled water companies (along with many other beverage companies) should include all freshwater used in production, including the water used for packaging. Not just the production of water itself.
"Packaging makes a significant footprint," according to Ertug Ercin from Water Footprint.Network. 3 liters of water might be used to make a half-liter bottle. In other words, the amount of water going into making the bottle could be up to 6 or 7 times what's inside the bottle.
Drilling for oil to make plastic, Ercin says, uses a substantial amount of groundwater. And you need water to make the paper, too, he adds.
Chris Hogan from IBWA explained the reason why the study didn't look at these issues as it's hard to know where to stop, "You could extrapolate that ad infinitum".
Hogan says some companies say they don't think they can get any more efficient, but they're trying. He also says, "Water, is the lifeblood of the industry and they want to be as efficient as possible."