When Did Bottled Water Come Out?
The bottled water industry has come a long way. In its earliest years, it was a niche product with a small market. However, its popularity grew in the late 19th century and 20th century. A rise in health awareness and the introduction of chlorination helped propel the market into a global arena.
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Before the bottled water industry arrived, mineral springs were the go-to destination for tourists and wealthy individuals. People believed that bathing in this water could cure common ailments. It was sold as a medicinal remedy until the mid-19th century.
The first bottled water appeared in the United Kingdom in 1621. The Holy Well in Malvern Hills, north of London, was the site of the first water bottling plant. Water from the well was sold throughout the country and was considered a healing agent. Until the early twentieth century, water bottles were only distributed through pharmacies.
Then came the invention of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. This new material was lightweight and was able to withstand pressure, which made bottles more cost-effective. By the 1970s, bottled water was once again a popular drink. Nathaniel Wyeth, a DuPont engineer, patented this new material.
Soon after, the chlorination process was introduced, making tap water safer and healthier. Cities began offering free filtered or chlorinated water. When chlorine was used to kill bacteria, the risk of typhoid was lessened. As a result, the bottled water industry grew in the US.
Eventually, the bottled water industry took off and became a major source of revenue. Millions of bottles of bottled water were sold each year. Many consumers switched to bottled water permanently.
The industry grew in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s when a health scare fueled the consumer demand for pure, clean water. The Safe Drinking Water Act standardized the quality of water in the United States. Companies like Perrier were able to capitalize on the fear of pollution and poor water quality, making a fortune. The Perrier Corporation spent $5 million in 1976 to revive the bottled water market in the U.S.
Perrier was a leading company until it was discovered to be contaminated with benzene in 1990. This prompted the company to recall its water. Other companies saw an opportunity in the gap and quickly capitalized on it. They also used the publicity to sell their products. After the 1990 recall, Perrier’s share of the bottled water market fell to 20 percent.
Today, the bottled water industry is a billion dollar business. Americans consume close to 10 billion gallons of bottled water per year. It’s the second most popular beverage in the United States, only behind sodas.
There is a debate on whether bottled water is more environmentally friendly than drinking soda. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a warning about high lead levels in some municipal tap water supplies. If you’re interested in a healthy, eco-friendly alternative to bottled water, you can visit Boxed Water is Better.