A collaboration between The University of Manchester, Edinburgh University, Essex University, Lancaster University and Leeds University with Fellowships based at Cardiff University, Queens University Belfast and The University of Salford
The consumption of bottled water has witnessed a massive and rapid shift in habits in the UK and Europe over the past two decades. The research objective is to explore this change in consumption practices, which present the paradox of a consumer product that is at once more ‘natural’ and ecologically less sustainable and renewable than ‘industrialised’ tap water.
The research focuses on the institutionalisation of ‘natural’ and ‘mineral’ water, in different parts of the world. It will compare the bottled water market in four European countries (the UK, France, Italy and Germany) analysing European and national systems of quality regulation and standards enforcement. Attention will be paid to how bottled water in European countries fits together with other consumer practices of eating (organic, local food) and living (sports and leisure), and social divisions in lifestyles. The research will also contrast the provisioning of tap water (and its variable qualities) with bottled water (natural, processed, carbonated, still, deep ocean, etc.).
As a further comparison, two city regions where hygienic water is not widely ‘on tap’ have been chosen. Mexico City (currently with highest levels of per capita bottled water consumption in the world) and Delhi will serve as the counterpoint to the institutionalisation of European bottled water. This comparison will provide critical contrasts in terms of modes of public and private water delivery, quality standards, regulation and consumption practices. The sustainability of water provision and consumption practices is thereby situated within a wider frame of reference.
Principal Investigator: Mark Harvey
Research Associate: Adrian Evans