from The Star


GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has called on the authorities to ban bottled water in the country, while also warning consumers not to refill plastic bottles or reuse them as chemical leaching can pollute the water within.

“Consumers should not refill the plastic bottle with tap water,” CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said at a press conference on Wednesday, adding that such bottles were made for one-time use only and would not stand up to repeated wear, dishwater treatment, direct sunlight, high temperatures or rough handling.

“Studies show that when subjected to stress tests, the bottles are more likely to leach plastic materials into the water the longer the bottles are reused,” he said.

Mohamed Idris said moreover, there was evidence that a toxic material called antimony (used in making polyethylene bottles) can begin leaching into the water immediately, even when it’s first used.

“In 2006, scientists in Germany found that antimony begins leaching into the water immediately. The longer the bottled water is in storage, the more toxic it becomes.

“High concentrations of antimony can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea,” he said.

Mohamed Idris said Malaysians consumed an average of 100 million bottles of bottled water every year.

“For the last two decades, bottled water has become a part of every social function.

“It’s amazing how Malaysians can be lured into paying exorbitant prices for what flows almost freely from the tap.

“The cost per bottle here ranges from 40sen, if bottles are bought in bulk, to RM5 a bottle in hotels.

“However, it is little known that 90% of the cost of bottled water is used for the label, cap and bottle,” he claimed.

He said it was also not commonly known that coloured bottle caps were designated for natural water, which was normally more expensive, while white caps indicated distilled drinking water.

Mohd Idris also noted that plastic bottles normally ended up in landfills and could take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

“It is estimated that 1.5 million barrels of crude oil or 2.7 million tonnes of plastic are used annually worldwide to produce plastic used to bottle water.

“The bottles that are thrown away create mountainous rubbish heaps, while incinerating used bottles produces toxic by-products like chlorine gas and ash laden with heavy metals that are all tied to a host of human and animal health problems,” he said.