Everything you always wanted to know about drinking water, the difference between tap water and bottled water, and much more…
Not only is tap water 50 to 200 times cheaper than bottled water, it is also safe, healthy and tasty.
In Belgium, the law obliges water companies to control the water thoroughly. In practice, more than 60 characteristics of water are permanently measured. Studies from external organizations also show that our tap water is of a very high quality. The quality of the pipes in your home also determines the quality of your drinking water. Your indoor installation must meet the legal standards, and must also be approved for that. Your local water company can help you in this.
Watch ‘Is tap water as good as bottled water’ again (documentary shown on Eén, in Dutch)
Read here: Tap water, safe and healthy, but at a different price (research by Test-Aankoop, Flemish consumer magazine).
In some areas, tap water and bottled water come from the same source, as in the case around Utrecht.
Read this story here (In Dutch).
No, our tap water is real drinking water of a high quality. Filtering tap water is no requirement for drinking it. Look here for tips about how to simply enjoy tasty tap water without using a filter or other complicated things.
Sometimes water gets filtered anyway. Good reasons could be:
- To descale the water to prevent damage to appliances by limescale (e.g. with coffee machines)
- To neutralise the taste (tap water can taste differently, depending on the area, due to a different composition)
- To protect your appliances (f.ex. the carbonator in the water tap dispenser) against small particles that could be found in the water, due to an outdated indoor installation.
The price of bottled water can be 200 times higher than that of tap water. This difference can be explained by the cost for packaging and transport (with a disastrous impact on our environment) and by the cost and profit margins of the manufacturer and the intermediary trade. The water in the bottle is not more expensive than tap water. The good news is that tap water does not need packaging, and that its transport is simply done through the mains water supply. Tap water is managed by the government (via intermunicipal companies), and is therefore sold without the high margins of bottled water.
It is perfectly possible and legitimate to ask a fair price for tap water. Our tap water is a quality product, and you can ask a correct price for it, as with other drinks. Whoever pays for a drink in a pub or restaurant, after all, not only pays for that drink, but especially for the other costs of the catering operation (rent, furnishing, heating, staff, taxes, etc.) And this is not different for a properly served glass of water.
As with other drinks and products, the right price gets determined by the context.
If a glass of water is served as a drink in a cafe or in any other environment where drinks are the most important product, the right price will be similar to that of other non-alcoholic drinks. The price of a drink is determined by the total costs and the purchase of water is but a small part of it. Owners of hotels, restaurants and cafes, and organizers who choose to become more sustainable, should not be punished economically, on the contrary. Please don’t judge them for having to pay for that glass or bottle of tap water with the fantastic service that they provide.
If the water is served with a meal, or with another, more expensive drink, the price can be lower, or water can be offered for free. Robinetto does not impose prices on managers of catering establishments or event organizers, but advises them to ask for a fair price, based on their own assessment and the specific context.
There are two sources from which drinking water is drawn.
On the one hand, surface water, which comes from rivers, springs and lakes, and on the other hand, groundwater, which is present in the subsoil.
When we talk about surface water, the lion's share in Flanders (Belgium) comes from the Albert Canal, which in turn draws water from the Maas. Conversely, groundwater usually comes from precipitation. To make this water suitable for human consumption, it is processed to meet the most stringent standards.
Most bottled water in Europe is natural mineral water, water from a natural spring. Even without any treatment, it is safe drinking water.
The European Union defines natural mineral water as “Bacteriologically healthy water, originating in a surface of water or an underground layer, coming from a source fed by one or more natural or artificial spring points”. The EU defines natural mineral water as: "Bacteriologically healthy water, originating in a surface of water or an underground layer, coming from a source operated by one or more natural or artificial spring points".
Natural mineral water must be bottled directly at the source, and is not processed. It goes without saying that it is permanently submitted to quality controls.
In some countries, bottled water from certain brands is merely treated or processed tap water.
Because mineral water requires packaging and transport, and tap water doesn’t, mineral water is much worse for the environment than tap water is.
The beverage industry often proposes recycling as a solution. However, recycling only helps to reduce the amount of waste but does not solve the essence of the problem. We continue to package and transport water. Moreover, the entire recycling process requires additional transport and a lot of energy. The figures also show that we are still a long way from complete recycling. According to the most recent fact check from Recycling Network Benelux, the actual recycling percentages in Belgium vary between 50 % (for cans) and 65 % (for beverage cartons and plastic packaging). In addition, recycled plastic from beverage packaging is not reused on a 1 to 1 basis for beverage packing, but often to a large extent downcycled into materials for textile, carpets, mattress fillings and the like. Beverage cartons are not used at all to make beverage cartons again. (You can find more about the recycling of different materials at FostPlus).
If you already have a tap water dispenser, and no longer use bottled water, you were already Robinetto before we invented Robinetto. Congratulations for that!
You can help us to share our story by joining the Robinetto network. In this network, we want to map the impact of our choice for tap water, in order to convince more and more people to participate. Specifically: you can connect a smart Robinetto counter to your existing water container, and thus contribute to our impact measurement. Contact us for more information!