“Water- a bequest of nature” bases all innovations in curbing water crisis to make our blue planet green and sustainable.
The dramatic upswing of PET (Polythylene Terephthalate) Bottles since the 1970s is the upshot of ‘manufactured demand', a testament to the fact that people can be swindled into buying back their own resource for the economic, environmental and physiological cost. Well, if you follow the plastic, you'd know where it goes! A study found microplastic particles in the bottled water inferring that people are gulping down plastic while drinking from PET bottles. Not only that, they hardly crush the bottle after using it which gives birth to the illegal trade of selling refilled unfiltered tap water maliciously sealed in the plastic bottles of different brands. On the other hand, the marine species end up ingesting plastic litter while swallowing several cubic meters of polluted water. Plastic, that can linger on for years has enormous potential for ecological destruction. In India specifically, exponential population growth can catalyze plastic inundation!
The rising impetus to reduce plastic waste has found refuge in the alternatives to bottled water. What if our tap water was safe, potable and tastes as good as mineral infused water packaged in the plastic bottles? Thanks to pollution, administrative complacency and lack of infrastructure, drinking directly from tap water would mean condemning ourselves to a probability of the new form of erstwhile Death by Contamination! The rescue to this problem is Point of Use purification solution like Drinking Water Stations, Bottle Filling Stations and Drinking Water Fountains.
Drinking water stations are integrated machines which purify tap water with a multiple stage process involving Pre- filters, Reverse Osmosis (RO) Membrane and Post-filters. The water fed into the system goes through Sediment filter, Pre-carbon water filter, RO membrane, Post Carbon water filter and UV (Ultra Violet) Germ Guardian. RO is the most crucial part of the system. The membrane consists of a very fine material, which will typically only allow particles of a size smaller than 0.0005 microns to pass through. Thin Film Composite (TFC) rejects 95% of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) down to .0001 Microns. Drinking water stations also come up with the environmentally friendly refrigerant with low GWP (Global Warming Potential) and insignificant ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential). They also have a resourceful application through seamless integration with carbonated beverage dispensers and coffee/tea vending machines. Therefore, they are a perfect substitute to even sparkling and carbonated water sold so proudly by bottled water giants hiking the cost of a free and abundant natural resource, water.
In states like Maharashtra, where municipal water supply is known to be safe, Drinking Water Fountains and Bottle Filling Stations with mere UV water purification is adequate. The primary purpose of UV is to disinfect the filtered water at a certain flow rate. UVC blue light covers the dispensing area obliterating germs just milliseconds before the water is dispensed. UV dose of 40,000 μwsec/cm2 kills 99.99% bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. As the light passes through them it penetrates their cells, ending their ability to reproduce.
Another water technology spinoff is Drinking Water Fountains. They are comparatively newfangled methods of hydration especially in developing countries like India. Featuring anti-bacterial protection and vandal resistant long life, drinking water fountains can be used at workplaces, schools, transportation locations, gardens and other public areas. Green specification certification, reduced water wastage and energy efficiency turn the tap water into an abundant source of high-quality H2O.
Let’s talk about Bottle Filling Stations. They feature built-in filter technology to provide purified and disinfected water. These bottle fillers are aesthetically appealing and can be simply mounted on the wall or can be used outdoors as surface mount or standalone water filling stations. They have the potential to eradicate the use of single-use plastic bottles and imbibe a community level drinking habit at a time where the water packaging cartels are busy stealing the notion of water being our birthright! Schools, colleges, fitness clubs, transport stations, office buildings, healthcare and hospitality facility can install Bottle Filling Stations as a one-stop hydration solution.
Wall mount, hands-free operation and vandal resistant features make drinking water stations suitable for places like schools and colleges. Easy accessibility of drinking water stations would eventually help in reducing the consumption of water substitutes like sugary drinks, flavoured water, soda and energy drinks. Drinking adequate amount of water can help improve students' cognitive functions, increase energy and concentration levels. Bottle Filling Stations can also be installed to refill reusable bottles. Places like fitness clubs, transport stations, healthcare and hospitality facility require frequent water consumption. Drinking water stations installed there would be perfect for providing purified and disinfected water. Even drinking water fountains could be mounted to drink directly from the bubbler. Coming to offices premises, employees spend almost half of their wake time in the office. Therefore, clean water accessibility is very important for their wellbeing. The abundantly available filtered water would discourage limited plastic bottled water intake and encourage the habit of drinking sufficient water throughout the day.
In the era of plastic revolution, that is perpetuated by its inherent durability and comfort, plastic consumption is surpassing its life cycle. Commercialization of water is endorsing what we don't need and gradually putting an end to our universal entitlement to the natural resource. PET, that is used to store bottled water leaches endocrine disruptors into the water when kept for more than 10 weeks which are potential carcinogens. The entire bottled water sourcing process which includes vendor tracking, delivery lags and their stocking is not only cumbersome and time-consuming but also take up a lot of valuable office space. The utility costs, space and administrative costs on maintaining bottled water supply are 200% more than that of Point of Use purification alternatives. What all does it take to produce bottled water? Manufacturing PET releases tons of carbon dioxide, uses a huge amount of petroleum oil and leads to a massive contribution to Landfills. Three litres of water is consumed in creating one litre of bottled water! The open water reservoirs used for bottled water are also subject to contamination. Marine life dying on the plastic-litter deathbed is not a new phenomenon.
Bottled Water? Why throw your hard-earned money down the cliff? Spending money on single-use plastic bottles would mean conspiring against nature, devising ways to inflict biological and physical hazards to flora and fauna, and deliberately gulping down microplastics, spreading deathtraps for yourself and your children. Therefore, Point of Use purification methods that reduce the carbon footprints up to 65% are healthy, economical, convenient and green alternatives to bottled water.
Now the question is, for people on the go, where should they store the water from the water filling stations? Innovative ways are emerging to substitute plastic bottles with reusable and biodegradable bottles. There are glass bottles which can be recycled over and over without quality degradation. There are stainless steel and aluminium reusable water bottles that are more sophisticated and durable as compared to glass bottles, paper water bottles are also coming up which are made up of a pulped mixture of biodegradable material. In India, where handcraft and cottage industries still provide livelihood to the huge part of the population, earthen clay water bottles which also promote natural cooling of water need to be encouraged. All these alternatives to bottled water are still at a nascent stage and need further feasibility testing to float them into the current of commercial products.
These alternatives to bottled water are extremely important to reduce plastic footprints on Earth. We need to encourage radical transformations to curb the plastic plague slowly but surely asphyxiating our planet. One single-use plastic bottle bought by you today might find its way thousands of years into the future as microplastics contaminating living organisms to the core! Therefore, Point of Use purification techniques could save the world from the impending ‘Plasticide'. The flame of change must be kindled from within to consume the bottled water obsession in the wildfire.
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