The City of Tallinn, Estonian Hotel and Restaurant Association and Tallinna Vesi Ltd. have launched a campaign that invites eco-friendly catering facilities to offer their customers tap water instead of bottled water.
"By offering tap water instead of bottled water, companies can be more customer-friendly and express their concern for human health and the environment," said Aivar Riisalu, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn. "It also reduces waste. By offering one cubic meter of tap water, it is possible to prevent the production, transport and handling of 2,000 plastic or glass bottles, because this is how many bottles it takes to package one cubic meter of water. Whilst the price of half a litre of tap water is less than one cent, the price of the cheapest drinking water in a bottle will exceed it at least 50 times. Everyone benefits from preferring tap water to bottled water.”
Tap water is 10 to 90 times more resource-efficient than bottled water, depending on how far the water Is transported. Bringing bottled water from longer distances consumes significantly more natural resources. Recycling the bottles also requires considerable resources: empty bottles must be transported again and further handled - sorted, crushed and transported again.
In nature, a plastic bottle takes 50 to 80 years to decompose in contact with air and 500 to 1000 years buried in the ground, because bacteria do not identify the main material of the plastic bottle - polyethylene - as food. At the expense of the energy saved by recycling one glass bottle, a 100-watt light bulb could burn for four hours or two to three cups of tea could be boiled.
The popularity of drinking tap water has grown year by year among Tallinners. Aleksandr Timofejev, CEO of Tallinna Vesi, believes that this has been facilitated by both continuous information work and the growing environmental awareness of consumers. "The quality of tap water in Tallinn has been very good for many years, and with its good availability, there is no reason why bottled water should be preferred to tap water," said Timofejev.
Studies and blind tests have also shown that the taste of tap water and bottled water is not arguably different. The quality of bottled water often depends on storage conditions. Unfitting storage can dissolve plasticizers and hormonal chemicals of the plastic bottle into the water, which can be harmful to human health.
According to Killu Maidla, CEO of the Estonian Hotels and Restaurants Association, the campaign is well timed and anticipated: “The environmental efficiency is one of the most important focus areas in our union. The tap water campaign is a good example of how businesses can contribute to environmental sustainability without having to make large investments or increase daily costs. On the contrary - there are opportunities that are beneficial to the surrounding nature and do not harm the profitability of the business in any way. I rather even believe that as our customers and guests are also increasingly aware and demanding in environmental protection, they will be so-called voting with their feet for the companies that set an example here.
Drinking water is beneficial for one’s wellbeing. Water is a major component of the human body, accounting for two-thirds of body weight, and is vital for organ function and thermoregulation. The body's water losses are usually small, but they may increase to several litres a day in hot and humid environments. Dehydration leads to headaches, weakness, loss of appetite and nausea. In case of thirst, pure drinking water should always be preferred. Providing water helps take care of people's health.
Catering facilities that offer tap water can make themselves visible with a respective label, which can be obtained from the information centre of the City Government (Vabaduse väljak 7), the Tallinn Tourist Information Centre (Niguliste 2) or the Tallinn Strategic Management Centre (Kaarli 4).
On the website www.vesikraanist.ee it is possible to see the catering facilities that have joined the initiative. It is also possible for customers to signal about the cafés and restaurants providing tap water and for companies to notify about joining the initiative.