Bottled Water Has Lightest Environmental Footprint

A new study finds that water, in all its forms, has the least environmental impact of any beverage choice. And when compared to other packaged beverages, including soft drinks, sports drinks, enhanced waters and juices, bottled water has the lightest environmental footprint.

The study is believed to be the first peer reviewed, comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of water and alternative beverage options, including filtered and un-filtered tap water consumed from reusable plastic, steel and aluminum containers. The analysis follows internationally accepted standards for methodology and transparency in reporting all findings, including favorable and unfavorable comparisons with other beverage options.

According to the report, packaging and distribution are key contributors to a beverage’s carbon footprint. Bottled water also doesn’t use “grown” ingredients, such as sugar, which eliminates the environmental impact of additional water, pesticides and energy usage associated with harvesting those ingredients.



Key findings from the study include:

  • Water is the least environmentally impactful beverage option
  • Water of all types accounts for 41% of a consumer’s total beverage consumption, but represents just 12% of a consumer’s climate change impact
  • Milk, coffee, beer, wine and juice together comprise 28% of a consumer’s total beverage consumption, but represent 58% of climate change impact bottled water is the most environmentally responsible packaged drink choice
  • Sports drinks, enhanced waters and soda produce nearly 50% more carbon dioxide emissions per serving than bottled water
  • Juice, beer and milk produce nearly three times as many carbon dioxide emissions per serving as bottled water Choosing between bottled and tap water is just one of many decisions that affect the environmental impact of the water consumers drink
  • Aspects such as transportation, refrigeration, dishwashing and recycling can also play a large role, as do choices among options within the bottled water category

    Consumers can decrease the climate change impact of consuming a plastic water bottle by 25% if they simply recycle it/

    The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a network of the national standards institutes in 163 countries, provides specific guidelines for conducting a life cycle analysis. According to ISO, life cycle analysis addresses the environmental aspects throughout a product’s life cycle, from raw material acquisition through production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling (where appropriate), and final disposal.

    “Water is the hero in this story, regardless of whether a person chooses bottled or tap. But sometimes tap is not available or preferred. This report also shows that people can feel good about drinking bottled water.

    “And, from a health perspective, choosing bottled water – with no calories, sweeteners or additives – is about the smartest choice one can make among packaged beverages.”

    bottled water, like every beverage, has an environmental footprint. The question is, what are we doing to reduce it?” says Alexia McIntire, director of studies on water. “This study helps us consider the impacts of beverage options in a fuller context. For example, this report indicates that bottled water bans can be counterproductive from an environmental perspective, since research shows if bottled water were not available, two-thirds of people would drink other packaged beverages, like soft drinks and juices, which often have more impact on the environment than bottled water.

    “More importantly, this report helps direct our efforts of more sustainable product and packaging designs in the future,” McIntire adds. “The study confirms that initiatives such as reducing plastic in bottles, taking a regional approach to distribution and advocating for comprehensive recycling are the right strategies for business and for the environment.”

    “Results show the importance of communicating more complete messages to consumers on environmental topics,” says Jon Dettling, US director for Quantis International. “The results reinforce the view that tap water has a lighter environmental footprint than bottled water, but also examine a variety of other choices consumers make about their consumption of both water and other beverages. Consumers, retailers and others who have an interest in making a difference for the environment can use these findings to make informed decisions about their choice of beverage, choice among water options, and choice in how much of each they consume.”



Private Label Bottled Water Sales Continue Upward

Private label bottled still water continued its positive sales trends and could reach $1 billion in sales next year if current trends hold.

For the 52 weeks ending Aug 8, private label bottled still water sales increased 10.3 percent to $967 million in the measured channels increasing its dollar share of the category to 15.1 percent, according to SymphonyIRI data.

Private label's unit sales increased even more quickly as it grew by 13.3 percent to more than 444 million unit sales during the time period.



Bottled Water Companies Applaud Governor For Reversing Ban

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has applauded Virginia governor Bob McDonnell for reversing the recently imposed ban on single-serve bottled water at official functions and meetings.

Governor McDonnell’s reversal of a directive by the previous governor is effective immediately. According to Governor McDonnell’s communications office, “This governor isn’t going to put in place mandates that hurt Virginia industries”.

Data from IBWA indicate Virginia has a strong bottled water market with a direct economic impact to the Commonwealth in 2009 of 3,719 jobs in bottling, wholesale and retail sales, and more than $145m in wages and salaries and $865m in product sales.

Last year, Virginia earned nearly $95m in business taxes from bottled water companies and over $21m in consumer taxes on the purchase of bottled water. When the economic impact of related industries, such as trucking, store clerk salaries, label-producers and other induced economic spending, bottled water’s overall contribution to Virginia in 2009 was $2.6bn.


“We’re grateful to Governor McDonnell for recognizing the value of bottled water companies to Virginia’s economy,” said Joseph K Doss, president and CEO of IBWA. “We note that with the exception of the ill-advised bottled water prohibition, Governor McDonnell is carrying over most of the ‘green’ policies to conserve resources and energy that were put in place by the previous administration. This means Virginia may put added emphasis on the need to recycle all consumer product containers, and IBWA will be on the front line to assist in that important effort.”

IBWA and its members are also continuing to work with the governor’s office on initiatives to further promote sustainability and the bottled water industry in Virginia.

Last month, the IBWA board of directors endorsed an innovative framework for a ‘Material Recovery Program’ that can serve as the blueprint for local communities to increase recycling through the support and participation of all stakeholders.

The Material Recovery Program framework will assist in developing new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in communities throughout Virginia and the nation by having all consumer product companies work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste collection efforts.

Organizational efforts to establish public/private corporations to improve community recycling efforts are under way.

Source: IBWA



Cancer Water Shock

Tap water is OK, isn’t it? Well, I always thought so, but I’ve just read an amazing recommendation from no less than the US President’s Cancer Panel.

This Panel is advising Americans to reduce their exposure to cancer-causing agents by filtering their tap water at home. More precisely it states, ‘filtering home tap water or well water can decrease exposure to numerous known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals’. Oooh!

There can be no doubt about the report’s intent. It’s entitled ‘Reducing Environmental Cancer Risks: What We Can Do Now’, and it’s backed by the US Water Quality Association, whose executive director Peter Censky affirms: “Home water treatment is a proven final barrier against many harmful chemicals.”

Of course, there’s also bottled water, especially one from a protected natural source. Zephrhills anyone?



The Latest In Environmental Responsibility

The past year has seen bottled water companies announcing various ways to reduce the carbon footprint of bottled water bottles. We now have "Environmentally Friendly" bio-degradable bottles, bottles with reduced volumes of plastic material, and recycled plastic bottles.

Now the latest development comes from a South African company, Stora Enso. The new product, called NeoSet, is a full wet strength paper label that contains "post-consumer-waste" (recycled) (PCW) fiber.

NeoSet is a one-side coated wet strength label containing a high percentage of PCW-fibers. It meets all the requirements of label papers specifically used for the production of labels for water and soft drink bottles. NeoSet is produced at Stora Enso's Uetersen Mill in Germany.

"With NeoSet we respond to the growing interest from brand owners in packaging solutions with further improved ecological efficiency characteristics," says Eckhard Kallies, VP for Packaging Papers. "We improve the environmental profile by replacing a high percentage of virgin fiber with post-consumer-waste content.



World Water Day

UN-Water has chosen ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’ as the theme for World Water Day 2010. The overall goal of the World Water Day on 22 March 2010 campaign is to raise the profile of water quality at the political level so that water quality considerations are made alongside those of water quantity.**

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

Many World Water Day events for awareness and fund raising are being held around the world. They include: - many walks for water and fund raising in the USA and Europe for a project in Africa or Asia; - school campaigns - street theatre shows - film shows - concerts - a new animated adventure-comedy series for kids aged 5-8 - newspaper articles and radio programs.

Going Green- American Eagle Beverages Recycled Water Bottles

American Eagle Beverages announces a “break-through” in private label bottle water packaging. Effective immediately, our new line of environmentally friendly Eco-Friendly water bottles will be made available to our customers that are served primarily from our Arizona bottling facility. These bottles are made entirely from previously recycled beverage containers. This is truly an industry first.

Currently, about 33% of all plastic beverage containers in the U.S. are recycled. Most of these containers are made from PET which is a clear plastic polymer used in package and container manufacturing. As always, we are committed to finding ways to improve our products, and position ourselves as an industry leader. The use of previously recycled PET will allow all of us to reduce our CO2 emissions by 1 – 1 ½ pounds for every 1 pound of plastic recycled.

Countless hours of research as well as a substantial financial investment on our part went into the development of this concept. The hard work and diligent efforts have paid off and we are truly happy to share our new proprietary container with you, our business partners, clients and customers.



New Video Highlights Family Owned Water Bottlers In US

The International Bottled Water Association’s consumer website has produced a two-minute video entitled, ‘I Am Bottled Water’, which highlights the key role of small, family run businesses in producing bottled water.

“We’re showing an important aspect of the bottled water industry,” said Tom Lauria, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “Activists want you to think bottled water companies are strictly big business, but in fact the majority of bottled water companies in the US are small, family owned businesses. IBWA proudly represents both large and small companies. 90% of IBWA members are small business owners.”

In the ‘I Am Bottled Water’ video, bottlers from Virginia, North Carolina, California, Oregon and Pennsylvania share stories of how building a small business from scratch creates bonds within families and their communities.

In recent years, those critical of the bottled water industry have suggested that only large, multinational corporations are involved in the US market. The truth is that, from coast to coast, a wide majority of single-serve and home and office delivery five-gallon bottled water providers are local or regional businesses that play important roles in their communities.

Bottled water is a safe, healthy and convenient food product that’s comprehensively regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. The families appearing in the video are indicative of all IBWA members, who are good stewards of natural resources, supporters of strong curbside recycling programes in their communities and generous contributors to many community-based charities.

Source: IBWA & Foodbev



That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy


The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

Download the full article



Arctic Ice Water from Greenland

A new (and expensive) bottled water product from Greenland has been recently been introduced. The product is called simply 938 and it is harvested from melting glacial icebergs. The water can be as old as 10,000 years and has a natural pH of 9 which might be a record for naturally occurring bottles water.

Not your ordinary supermarket water, 938 is targeted at the health and lifestyle niche and an upscale exclusive clientele. Currently the product is only available from a hand full of retailers in Switzerland.



America Recycles Day!

The International Bottled Water Association applauds efforts to encourage consumers to always recycle, a key aim of the America Recycles Day campaign. This event was founded by ‘Keep America Beautiful” thirteen years ago and has been celebrated each year on November 15 to remind Americans about the importance of personal recycling and the need for effective community recycling programs.

Plastic bottled water containers – whether single serve PET, or home and office delivery (HOD) 3 and 5 gallon jugs – are all 100 percent recyclable. In addition, HOD plastic water jugs are reusable. The bottled water industry has encouraged recycling for many years and taken actions to help improve community curbside recycling programs.

“Efforts to educate consumers about recycling empty plastic water bottles appear to be having an effect. A 2008 National Association of PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) study (the most recent data available) found recycling rates for bottled water containers at a decade high of 30.9 percent,” said Tom Lauria, Vice President of Communications at the IBWA, “That’s a 32 percent improvement over the previous year, and more than 50 percent improvement since 2006.”Currently, bottled water containers are the single most recycled item in single stream curbside recycling programs. In 2008, data from the “Post-Consumer Plastic Bottle Recycling Report” indicates the recycling rate for all plastic bottles is 27 percent.

“It is encouraging that the improvement of bottled water container recycling is now over the 30% mark, but we are reminded that still more needs to be done by bottled water companies and all companies producing consumer products packaged in plastic,” Mr. Lauria said.

Furthermore, the industry has made significant inroads in reducing the amount of virgin plastic used to make bottled water containers by light-weighting its packaging. Over the past 8 years, the total weight of PET plastic bottled water containers has been reduced by 32 percent. This has saved over 1.3 billion pounds of PET resin plastic. Other innovative ways to improve recycling is by expanding the use of recycled PET (rPET), and exploring new compostable and bio-degradable plastics.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PET bottled water containers as comprise only 1/3 of one percent of the U.S. waste stream. Although a relatively small amount, bottled water companies are serious about bringing that statistic down even further. Earlier this year, members of the International Bottled Water Association approved a plan that would see our industry work more closely with municipalities to improve the recovery of recyclable material, primarily through the expansion of single-stream curbside recycling collection programs. Right now, approximately half of American communities do not have such programs.

“IBWA’s ‘Material Recovery Program’ framework is intended to assist in developing new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in communities throughout in the United States by having all consumer product companies work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste collection efforts,” Mr. Lauria said.“The bottled water industry is ready to take action on this front, but to truly improve how America recycles, we need a comprehensive effort that focuses on all consumer product packaging.”

“America Recycles Day is an important, one-day event, but consumers should think about recycling everyday and make a point to do it right,” Mr. Lauria said. In order to reach consumers about recycling, IBWA recently partnered with Earth, a major consumer education services company and website that addresses product end-of-life solutions and provides proper disposal information for more than 200 consumer products in over 120,000 locations. IBWA sponsors the website’s section on plastic bottle recycling.

December 2010



Water Safety


Q. I’ve been saving gallons of water in unopened plastic jugs since 9/11. Does the water go bad for drinking and cooking?

A. If the water was clean when it went into the containers, if the jugs were perfectly clean and sanitized to begin with, and if you are sure the containers were never opened, it will not have become unsafe to consume.

If you have doubts about any of these factors, the water can still be used if it is purified. The purification methods usually suggested are filtering followed by boiling or adding a few drops (about eight drops per two-liter bottle) of unscented liquid household bleach.

Authorities like the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend keeping emergency water supplies on hand in case of a disaster: a gallon a day per household member, enough for at least three days. It should be either commercially bottled water or chlorinated tap water put into clean, food-grade, soft-drink-type plastic containers, not cardboard juice or milk containers.

The authorities also recommend renewing the supply every six months and keeping it away from heat and sunlight, which encourage the growth of any microbes that may be present. Boiled water can be aerated to make it more palatable by pouring water back and forth between two clean containers.

Source: NY Times October 2010



2009 Bottled Water Statistics

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC)has released 2009 bottled water statistics, compiled by BMC, a research, consulting and financial services firm dedicated to the global beverage industry.

The new BMC data shows the bottled water category's overall share of the liquid refreshment beverages marketplace held steady at approximately 29.2 percent in 2009. The overall consumption of bottled water has dropped slightly, by 2.5 percent, but the rate of decline is less than the decline of total U.S. refreshment beverage market, which dropped 2.7 percent in 2009. Given the continued poor U.S. economic situation, the bottled water industry is happy to hold its own against other packaged beverages.

In 2009, total bottled water consumption was 8.45 billion gallons, a 2.5 percent decrease compared to 2008's figure of 8.66 billion gallons. Overall in 2009, the entire U.S. refreshment beverage category fell by 2.7 percent, the second consumption downturn in two years. Analysts attribute the drop primarily to a major U.S. recession, also in its second year. Consumption of carbonated soft drinks fell by 2.3 percent while sports drinks as a category declined by 12.3 percent. Packaged fruit beverages fell by 2 percent. Recently-launched flavored and vitamin-added bottled water saw an 8.8 percent decline. Energy drinks did advance 0.2 percent, while ready-to-drink bottled teas saw a 1.2 percent gain, the only category gains recorded in 2009.

"Although 2009 was the second year in a row of unusual weakness in liquid refreshment beverages' performance, the worst may be over," says Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO of BMC. "Beverages are likely to be one of the first categories to benefit with a job-led economic recovery because they represent an inexpensive form of pleasure."

Bottled water's 29.2 percent market share in 2009 of the liquid refreshment beverage category is up from 2008's volume share of 29.1 percent.

"During these tough economic times, consumers have trimmed discretionary spending," says Tom Lauria, vice president of communications for IBWA, "but bottled water sales decreased less than most other major categories. Subsequently, we now enjoy steady market share as consumers chose bottled water over other packaged beverages."

Lauria continues: "The faltering economy has packaged beverage sales down across the board. Some industry watchers have also wondered how much, if any, increased activism on the alleged environmental impact of bottled water is a possible reason for the drop. However, there has been a notable decrease in sales of nearly all packaged beverages including steep drops in many packaged beverage products that activists never discuss or protest. Meanwhile, there‚ was plenty of evidence that this recession is taking its toll on all forms of consumer spending. Bottled water is well-established and popular with consumers who rely on its convenience, healthfulness and refreshing taste."

Consumers should also know that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.

"Consumers must also be made aware of the bottled water industry's outstanding record of environmental stewardship, protection, and sustainability," Lauria says.

Bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable. Although bottled water makes up only one-third of 1 percent of the U.S. waste stream, according to the EPA, the bottled water industry works hard on a number of fronts with recycling advocates, communities and our beverage and food partners to increase recycling rates. The bottled water industry is also at the forefront of utilizing measures to reduce its environmental footprint. In the past eight years, bottled water companies have reduced the weight of PET resin plastic single-serve bottles by 32 percent. That is the equivalent of removing one out of three bottled water containers from the waste stream.

June 2010




Bottled Water as a Marketing Tool - BizIntro

June 2005