plastic bottles in black garbage bags

How Many Plastic Water Bottles Are Used Each Year?

Reusable water bottles have become the norm today, but unfortunately, plastic water bottles are still widely used every day.

Plastic water bottles do not break down easily and can outlive generations, polluting the earth. While you might not think that the occasional plastic bottle you buy from time to time is a significant contribution to the problem, with billions of people worldwide doing the same thing, it adds up.

Keep reading to learn how many plastic water bottles are used each year, how plastic bottles hurt the environment, and what you can do to help.

How Many Plastic Water Bottles Are Used Each Year?

Let’s jump right into it: how many plastic water bottles are used each year? The answer is, unfortunately, a lot.

About 500 billion plastic water bottles are used yearly, with Americans using 50 billion a year, about 10% of the world’s water bottle consumption. This averages out to about 13 plastic bottles per person, per month, in the U.S.

In fact, despite the United States only making up 5% of the world’s population, they consume 30% of the plastic waste each year.

To break that down further, 60 million water bottles are thrown away daily in the United States. Thirty-five billion water bottles are thrown away yearly in the United States, but only 12% are correctly recycled.

Based on this information, you can see that plastic water bottles are being overconsumed. This truly can’t be good for our environment. Now that you know how many plastic water bottles are used each year, let’s take a closer look at why precisely this many plastic water bottles severely harm the earth.

different types of plastic bottles

Why Are Plastic Water Bottles Bad for the Environment?

While it’s important to know how many plastic water bottles are used each year, you should also understand why you should care about the large number of plastic water bottles the world consumes. There are many reasons why plastic water bottles are bad for the environment.

The top reason is that the plastic that these bottles are made from – polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polycarbonate (PC), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastics – don’t easily break down in the ground when disposed of.

Plastics can take up to 500 years to decompose, with most taking at least a couple hundred years and PET taking about 450 years to decompose fully. This means that most of the plastic ever produced is still around. The rate of decomposition of plastic depends on environmental factors like sunlight exposure and the material’s structure.

What’s more, the issue starts before plastic water bottles even end up in our possession. Producing plastic water bottles has a significant negative impact on the environment.

For example, you may be surprised to hear that it takes more water to create one plastic water bottle than the amount of water it can hold. On average, it takes about 1.4 gallons (5.3 liters) of water to produce a typical single-use water or soda bottle.

Water isn’t the only issue. The total carbon footprint of one plastic water bottle is about 828 grams of carbon dioxide. The transportation and storage of plastic water bottles are also elements to consider in the environmental impact of plastic water bottles.

As you can see, a surplus of plastic water bottles contributes to the decline of our planet’s health and security. The good news is that there are a few things that you can do to minimize this impact.

How to Minimize Plastic Water Impact

While science has not entirely found ways to reverse the damage that’s already been done to the environment, there are some things that we can do to slow it. Every person counts, so by changing a few of your daily habits, you can contribute to the worldwide initiative of healing the planet.

Here are some ways to minimize the environmental impact of plastic water bottles.

Always Keep a Reusable Water Bottle

The best way to minimize plastic water bottle use is to always keep a reusable water bottle with you.

With the U.S. averaging 13 plastic water bottles per person per month, by using a reusable water bottle, you can save up to 156 plastic bottles per year!

It’s easy to find a water refilling station anywhere in most big cities today. From water fountains to the kindness of establishments willing to refill your reusable bottle, avoiding disposable bottles is easier than ever.

women drinking outdoors


Sometimes, using a plastic water bottle is unavoidable, such as in the case of a concert venue that prohibits you from bringing bottles inside.

If you must consume plastic water bottles for any reason, then you should, at the very least, dispose of them properly. When you recycle your plastic water bottles, you prevent them from ending up in a landfill, where they and other plastic packaging will take centuries to biodegrade.

Instead, recycling disposable water bottles and other recycled plastic turns them into clothes, furniture, and even new water bottles. Always remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Refill Plastic Water Bottle

Once again, sometimes, we end up needing a plastic water bottle. However, if the area from which you bought the plastic water bottle has a water refill station, make sure to take advantage of those instead of going to buy another water bottle.

Bonus: Bring an Empty Water Bottle to the Airport

The airport is one of the places that sell the most plastic water bottles. However, even though you can’t bring water behind security, you can still get bottled water.

Airports even encourage you to ditch plastic disposable water bottles and bring an empty refillable bottle. You’ll save money on the expensive airport water and protect the environment!

Help End Plastic Water Bottle Use

Hopefully, you’ve not only learned how many plastic water bottles are used each year, but you’ve also learned what you can do to help.

Help end plastic water bottle use at your event by renting a Quench Buggy water trailer. Check out this page to learn more.