Bottled water vs. tapped water: which is better? Debunking myths around water quality

Influenced by marketing and brand recognition, some people prefer to drink bottled water to tap water. But against popular belief, that doesn’t necessarily translate into higher quality or hygiene.

To work out students’ perceptions around the topic and discuss water drinking habits, MULTIPLIERS partner Iren, through its educational division Eduiren, co-organised a water “blind tasting” at the Blaise Pascal School in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia. Perceptions from upper secondary students at the tasting experience were compared to the results of analytical tests on different types of drinking water, allowing participants to debunk myths and illusions regarding perceived quality and taste.

Research shows that bottled and tap water samples are not systematically different in relation to health risks or taste. Similarly, from a consumer perspective, people are generally not able to distinguish tap from bottled water in blind tastings – showing that many beliefs are related to preconceived ideas rather than to actual experiences or product characteristics.

In contrast, bottled water is substantially worse for the environment, as it requires more energy to produce (including water treatment, bottling, transportation and refrigeration). Single-use plastic water bottles also release toxins to the environment as they degrade, and often end up in landfills or in water bodies.

The event was organised in collaboration with the Blaise Pascal upper secondary school, one of the MULTIPLIERS OSC partners in Italy, within the project theme “Clean Water and Sanitation”.  Learn more about it here.