The Erasmus Plus project Waterschool helps us to understand how to improve the way we use drinking water, a strategic resource for the future of all of us.
Italy is the largest European consumer of bottled water
According to a CENSIS survey, 90.3% of Italians drink mineral water, 79.7% drink at least half a liter a day. In the last twenty years, between 1995 and 2016, there has been a boom in consumers, which have grown by as much as 19 percentage points: even more impressive is the increase of those who drink at least half a liter a day, which has even increased 36%. Today there are 49 million Italians who drink mineral water: 8 million more than twenty years ago.
In Europe, Italy therefore holds the record for individual consumption of bottled water: on average 206 liters per capita per year, 29 liters more than the Germans (16.4% more), 84 liters more than French (+ 68.9%), 85 liters more than the Spaniards (+ 70.3%), 173 liters more than the United Kingdom (+ 524.4%), 96 liters more than the average EU value (+ 87.3%).
These are the so-called Millennials (18-34 year-olds) those who have the closest relationship with mineral water, both as a consumer base (92.6%) and as consumption intensity, with 83.3% of them drink at least half a liter a day. This is followed by minors with 91.1% and, very close, the Baby boomers (ie people born in the sixties), with 90.9%. While the oldest component of the population is the one with the lowest share of mineral water consumption, which remains high, being 86.8%.
Regarding the more intense consumers, i.e. those who drink at least half a liter of bottled water a day, the quotas are still high with the highest point among the Millennials (83.3%), then the Baby boomers (80.8%) , minors (79.7%) and the elderly – of whom, however, almost three quarters drink at least half a liter a day.
In total the consumption of bottled water in Italy is 170-180 liters per inhabitant per year.
According to data from the National Observatory on sustainable lifestyle 2018, in collaboration with Lifegate, carried out on a sample of 800 people, if you ask Italians to consume bottled water, 47% say it is a choice due to a “perception of greater safety”, 20% refers to “comfort” of use, and 16% to taste. While the tap is preferred only by 27% of the sample interviewed and drunk because it is safe (40%), because it is considered more healthy (16%) and to have a lower impact on the environment (10%).
How to improve the use of drinking water
These data are very important, because they demonstrate the enormous economic and environmental impact of bottled water consumption, especially in reference to the growing concern about plastic waste, about drinking water as a global strategic resource and about the consumption of beverages other than water, with their heavy impact on lifestyles of young people and children, especially at school.
These are all reasons why it is really relevant an initiative such as that of the Erasmus Plus Waterschool project, which precisely aims, through suitable training courses for users and operators, to promote and disseminate the consumption of tap water in schools. It is certainly a good idea to start from the bottom, to raise awareness among operators, families, public administrators, teachers and students reagarding the systemic importance of using tap water as drinking water.
The project, whose Italian partner is just Centro Libero Analisi e Ricerca – CLAR, publisher of clarissa.it, involves partners in Austria (lead partner), Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, United Kingdom, Slovenia. We will not fail to update you on the developments, even at the local level, of the project.