Consumers challenged to give up bottled water for a month in bid to highlight pollution risks
Northern Ireland consumers drink the most bottled water per head in the UK, a new survey has revealed.
People across the region consume 3.82 bottles a week, followed closely by Wales at 3.39 and London at 3.37.
OnePoll research on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and water filter company BRITA revealed that UK adults were set to use nearly 7.7 billion single-use plastic water bottles this year, adding to a rising tide of plastic pollution.
Despite having high-quality and cheap tap water at home, a third of people in Northern Ireland buy bottled water but do not believe they contribute to pollution because they recycle, the survey revealed.
Future generations also seem to be following this trend, with over a third (37%) of children here mainly drinking bottled rather than tap water.
The MCS Plastic Challenge called on people here to give up using single-use plastic bottles this June as it highlights their damaging effects on the environment.
Encouragingly, over half of Northern Irish adults (57%) said they would consider using more tap water, which lessens environmental pollution.
Bottled water sales grew by 25% in volume between 2010 and 2015, reflecting a worrying trend in the number of single-use plastic water bottles used both at home and on the go.
Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the MCS, said: "Single-use plastic water bottles in the seas and on coasts are a menace to wildlife, particularly as they start to break down.
"They add to the microplastic load of the oceans and can be eaten by animals at all stages of the food chain.
"It takes 162g of oil and seven litres of water to manufacture a single one-litre disposable bottle, which amounts to the release of 100g of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.
"This means single-use plastic bottles significantly contribute to pollution, even if they are subsequently recycled."
Richard McIlwain, deputy chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, added: "We're delighted to support the MCS Plastic Challenge campaign. In national litter surveys undertaken by Keep Britain Tidy, over half of sites have soft drinks and water bottles littered on them.
"More than five billion bottles every year end up littered or in landfill, and the vast majority of these bottles are made of plastic, which is a valuable resource.
"We want to see people reduce their dependence on single-use plastic bottles and then collect and recycle what's left."
For more information about the plastic challenge, visit www.mcsuk.org/plasticchallenge