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Tap tap water, cap the bottled one: UK study

world Updated: Jul 25, 2008 15:40 IST

Indian tourists in Britain who often face smirks at eateries when they ask for tap water will now have the last laugh. A pollster now says more Britons are favouring it to the bottled stuff.

And what more, the revelation comes with a suggestion to open free tap water re-filling stations across the country to quench thirst. Sounds familiar?

Which?, a well-known consumers expert, has conducted a poll which says one out of two in Britain are coming round to believing bottled water tastes the same as tap water.

Half of the 3,039 people Which? polled said they did not think there was any difference in terms of quality and taste. Nearly a fifth actually preferred the flavour of tap water.

It perhaps has more to do with price than taste. Tap water costs 0.22 pence a litre. That is 141 times cheaper than the best-selling mineral water, Evian.

Evian costs 31 pence a litre in a supermarket and more if bought on the high street.

Britons splashed out £1.68 billion on more than two billion litres of bottled water in 2006 but there are signs that public thirst for bottled is drying up, Which? says on its web site.

"Nearly a quarter of the people we surveyed said they are drinking less bottled water than a year ago. Our survey also found 84 per cent of people believe tap water is better for the environment than bottled."

The bottled water production process wastes an estimated two gallons of water for every gallon purified to put into a bottle.

Some bottled waters also come from as far away as New Zealand, and most plastic water bottles go to landfill where they could take up to 450 years to decompose.

Which? supports the idea of installing free tap water "refilling stations" (similar to vending machines) in public spaces. "There are plans to pilot 10 of these stations around London and if the idea spreads across the UK, we believe it could have a real impact on water-drinking habits."

Which? editor Neil Fowler says: "There are plenty of good reasons for choosing tap water. You can save money, it's better for the environment and it can taste just as good - if not better."