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Iceland urges tourists to ditch 'pointless' bottled water

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© Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited The Aurora Borealis over Reykjavik, Iceland

By James Rothwell, The Telegraph

Iceland is urging tourists to stop buying environmentally damaging plastic bottles of mineral water as they are "wildly over-priced" and pointless in a country with some of the cleanest tap water in the world.

The Icelandic environment agency wants tourists to ditch single-use plastic and buy reusable water containers, amid concerns that the country's surge in popularity is putting undue strain on the environment.

The Nordic country has a population of just 300,000, but the number of foreign visitors has quadrupled in just six years, with 2.1 million people making the trip in 2017.

"With increased tourism, we need to do better at informing our guests about the water quality of tap water in Iceland, with the main achievement being the reduction of unnecessary plastic consumption," an environment agency spokeswoman told the Telegraph.

"People are buying water in bottles because they are not sure about the quality of water in Iceland. The aim...is to point out that once you have a bottle, you can just keep refilling it.

"Hopefully the initiative will also raise awareness among tourists and Icelanders about the unecessary plastic pollution connected to the consumption of still water and encourage consumers to bring a reusable bottle along when they are on the move."

She added that Icelandic tap water was "great" and deserved a better public image.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the proposal, while Icelandic newspaper The Reykjavik Grapevine pointed out that bottled water was "wildly overpriced, at times costing more per litre than even petrol."

Iceland ranks first place worldwide for water and sanitation standards on the Environmental Performance Index, while it has the second highest standards - after Finland - for citizens' environmental health.

However, its wild landscape and idyllic fishing villages dotted along the coast are increasingly at risk from climate change and a high carbon footprint.

There are also concerns about local pollution - as public transport is sparse, the country has the highest rate of vehicle ownership in the world, after the United States.

In response, Iceland launched a "negative emissions" plant in 2016 which sought to turn carbon dioxide into stone.

The plant pumps carbon dioxide underground, where it cannot contribute to global warming, and then turns solid in as little time as two years.

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Travel - U.S. Daily News: Iceland urges tourists to ditch 'pointless' bottled water
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