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Although citizens think tap water is good quality, half only drink bottled water. CAP Group launches an information campaign to promote drinking tap water

On the occasion of World Water Day, the CAP Group launched an awareness campaign to promote the use of tap water. The campaign starts from a very specific premise: in most nurseries and primary schools, children drink tap water every day because it is safe and good quality. The campaign makes children the protagonists, with a phrase they often hear from adults: “Before you say you don't like it, at least try it!”. Here, the perspective is reversed and it is children who teach us a new good habit.

Tap water is seen as good quality, convenient and environmentally friendly, but almost half of the population only drinks bottled water. Despite the fact that more than 8 out of 10 people (83.4%) think highly of the quality of the tap water that we all have at home, Italians remain the biggest consumers of bottled water in Europe, with all the environmental consequences that this entails, such as the enormous production, transport and disposal of plastic bottles. And even the widespread use of reusable water bottles - almost 90 % of people now own at least one - does not translate into constant use: only one in four people carry them with them every day.

This is the result of a CAWI survey carried out by CSA Research on behalf of the CAP Group between 7 and 11 March among a sample of 1,300 citizens on the occasion of World Water Day, following the example of children in nurseries and primary schools who always carry their own water bottle and drink tap water every day.

Moreover, the vast majority of respondents are generally positive about tap water: more than half say it is very good (50.3%) and 33.1% say it is good, and a fifth of respondents (21.2%) say the quality has improved in recent years. In short, the water gets full marks, but only about one third of respondents drink it every day: 29.2% drink it every day, while 27.5% alternate between bottled mineral water and tap water, compared to 43.3% who drink only bottled water.

The reasons for using mains water are easily explained. First and foremost, convenience (59.7%): it's always available, you don't have to carry heavy water bottles, and you don't have to go back and forwards to the supermarket to get them. After all, it’s the same water we use for cooking and brushing our teeth. In second place was sustainability (54.2%) and the awareness of helping to reduce the proliferation of plastic, one of the main environmental threats. In third place is safety (38.7%), a factor confirmed by the fact that operators are obliged to carry out mandatory checks on the water supplied. For example, the CAP Group analyses 20,000 samples a year to determine more than 700,000 chemical and microbiological parameters to ensure good water quality. In fourth place is taste: for 31%, tap water tastes good and is safe. But it is also affordable, as emphasised by a third of respondents (31%). In the Metropolitan City of Milan, for example, water costs just over 1 euro per cubic metre, which is one thousand litres.

Bottled water drinkers prefer it still (61.6%, while 28.6% prefer sparkling), a sign that there is definitely room to increase tap water consumption. But what are the reasons for this purely Italian habit? Those who only drink bottled water say it is safer (33%), many do not trust tap water (37.7%), but for almost 6 in 10 it is a matter of taste (28.8% say they do not like the taste of tap water and 27.2% say bottled water tastes better).

According to Utilitalia, every Italian drinks an average of 208 litres of bottled water a year: we are the leading country in Europe, where the average is half that (106 litres), and second in the world after Mexico (244 litres). In Italy, 30 million plastic bottles are used every day, representing more than 90% of consumption (glass bottles account for just over 7%), resulting in 13.5 billion waste bottles to be managed every year. Of this volume of plastic bottles, approximately 80% are transported by road for distribution and on average only 46% are recycled (Reloop 2022).

But in addition to plastic bottles, the use of reusable water bottles of all types, shapes and materials is extremely widespread.  Oven 83% of respondents own at least one, with this figure over 90% in the youngest age group (between 18 and 35). However, only a quarter (25.1%) use them daily, plus 34.4% who say they use them often. But while reusable water bottles should be the tool at everyone's fingertips to contribute to environmental sustainability, only 42.8% of respondents fill them with tap water, a percentage that curiously drops among women (39.4%) and young people (again 39.4% among the under-25s and 36.9% among the 24-34s), categories generally associated with greater environmental awareness. On the other hand, 40.6% pour water from plastic bottles into their reusable water bottles, in a sense defeating the purpose.

The campaign will be planned in print, addressable TV, social and digital. The dedicated landing page, https://www.gruppocap.it/it/bevidalrubinetto, will provide a wealth of information on the water that reaches our homes, how and how often water is analysed, how to read a water label, the regulations and laws that guarantee the quality of water, and many curiosities on health and well-being linked to the blue gold. The website also offers a downloadable guide, produced in collaboration with Altroconsumo, which is entirely dedicated to tap water: quality, safety and checks, taste, limescale, pollutants, without neglecting reusable bottles, jugs and carbonators.