Your plastic water bottle is making you ill.

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Believe it or not, warnings telling you not to reuse mineral water bottles aren’t a scam

If you’re the kind of person who refills their supermarket-bought mineral water bottle thinking you’re doing the world a favour, then we’ve got some bad news for you.

The fact is that you’d be better served chucking that bottle straight into the recycling after its first use, a national waste and recycling company says.

UK waste management agency BusinessWaste.co.uk – who were the first company to call for an end to plastic straws in pubs and bars – says that advice not to reuse mineral water bottles isn’t a corporate scam to get you to buy more water.

“On the contrary, it’s because they care for their customers,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “but customers don’t seem to care for themselves”.

In a straw poll of over 1500 people who drink bottled water daily while out and about, BusinessWaste.co.uk found:

• People who buy a new single-use bottle every time – 8%
• People who reuse single-use plastic bottles – 43%
• Use a plastic cup or glass – 31%
• People who use purpose-made water bottles – 18%

“We’re talking nearly half of people here,” says Hall, “and they’re not aware of the risks.”

Long-standing scientific studies show that the plastic mineral water bottles starts to break down after repeated use, and can be particularly risky if you just give it a quick rinse between uses.

Everyday use of plastic bottles meant for single-use result in tiny cracks and abrasions in which bacteria can reside, Hall says.

“Every day you continue using an old mineral water bottle increases the risk.” he says. “You’d be best taking some very basic precautions to protect yourself.”

Urban Myth laid to rest

These findings slay the urban myth that the advice not to reuse bottles is a “scam” to get people to buy more bottled water.

“That myth couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Hall. “The companies’ advice stands up to rigorous science, and it really is in your best interest to get rid of that bottle once you’ve finished with it.”

Business Waste’s advice for drinking bottled water is simple:

• If you buy a bottle of mineral water, throw it in the recycling bin when you’ve finished with it. It’s guaranteed to be 100% recycled into another plastic product

• Spend your money on a proper water bottle made from quality plastic that doesn’t fissure or crack and can stand multiple uses and trips through the dishwasher.

But even with a good quality water bottle, you still need to make sure it’s clean and sterile.

“We know some people who go weeks on end drinking tap water out of the same water bottle that cost them a tenner at a camping shop, with barely a rinse between uses,” says Hall.

“They’re saving money hand over fist, but think of all the nasties getting in there.”

Another BusinessWaste.co.uk straw poll found that of those who drank from multiple-use bottles:

• Wash it every time – 15%
• Give it a quick rinse every time -39%
• Wash it “when it needs it” – 43%
• I’ve never washed it – 3%

Hall admits he once cadged a quick swig of water from a colleague’s bottle and says “It tasted like something from out of the bottom of a swamp – can you imagine the bacteria in that single mouthful?”

Even a quick clean with soap and water is enough to make a reusable bottle safe enough to drink, Business Waste says, and it defies logic that many, many people don’t even do just that.

“Do yourself a favour,” says Hall, “Wash your bottle every time.”

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