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Soda Stream is advertised as a more sustainable alternative to buying sparkling water in bottles. The main selling points are that no water filled bottles need to be manufactured, transported and recycled anymore.

I am a little skeptical, because the Soda Stream machine itself needs to be manufactured in the first place and producing / maintaining the gas bottles also does not seem zero effort to me.

I do not doubt, that the machines do make sense when used a lot, but are there any data on how many bottles need to be carbonated until the environmental break even (e.g. in CO2) is reached?

I know similar articles about how many ebooks would need to be read on a single ebook reader until its production becomes more sustainable than printing the books on paper instead. For Soda Stream I do however only find articles that deal with which option is cheaper.

I would be interested in comparisons for single use plastic bottles, deposit plastic bottles and deposit glass bottles.

  • This isn't quite an answer but foodanddrinknews.co.uk/2012/… reports that the SodaStream "cola syrup" has a carbon footprint 75% lower than other "cola drinks" distributed in PET bottles. If you found the carbon footprint of a "cola drink" and the carbon footprint of a SodaStream then you'd be close to being able to calculate how many "cola drinks" it takes to break even. I don't know if "cola drinks" and "sparkling water" have comparable footprints or not. – Jean-Paul Calderone Aug 13 at 13:36
  • Are deposit glass bottles a thing anywhere? Just yesterday I found residue of one of the 1980s deposit glass bottles of Mountain Dew; our lodge was basically built on that stuff lol. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 20 at 21:34
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica They are pretty common in Germany. – Tim Aug 20 at 21:55
  • Not a direct answer to the headline-question, just a COMMENT about involved things: Soda stream water, made of CO2 and mains water should not be directly compared to high quality mineral water, because of big differences in mineral contents and taste. Bottled mineral water might be more good for health (contents and weight lifting). If people that are longer healthy are more sustainable for this planet or not is a very complex question, because it depends on how they live and how much children they produce, etc. Some people might find out, after buying soda-stream, that it is NOT the same as a – Didi Aug 27 at 17:59
  • Some places have container deposit laws so almost every drink bottle or can has that deposit built in. Where I live it's only 20c but applies to most things (milk and wine bottles are the main exceptions. Beer bottles have the deposit) epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/recycling-and-reuse/… – Móż Sep 5 at 22:30
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A very rough calculation.

Weigh an individual empty bottle that originally contained bottled water. You get a measure for how much materials went into manufacturing it.

Weigh the SodaStream machine.

If the SodaStream machine weighs 2.5 kg, and an individual 1.5 liter bottle weighs 0.04 kg, you have used the same amount of material when approximately 62.5 bottles of 1.5 liters each have been consumed. That's little less than 100 liters of carbonated water.

In reality, you need to take into account the energy used for hauling the full 1.5 liter plastic bottles and the CO2 containers used for SodaStream. That would slightly reduce the number of liters needed for net benefit.

I would assume the answer is somewhere around 50 liters of water.

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