Bottled water continues to be a focal point for critics who see it as a wasteful extravagance or environmental ill. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) works hard to correct these misleading claims and educate consumers about the facts, because when it comes to packaged beverages, bottled water is the smart choice for healthy hydration and environmental responsibility.
The consumption of water, whether from the bottle or the tap, is a good thing and any actions that discourage people from drinking bottled water are not in the public interest. For those who want to eliminate or moderate calories, sugar, caffeine, artificial flavors or colors, and other ingredients from their diet, choosing bottled water is the right choice. In fact, since 2000, approximately 73% of the growth in bottled water consumption has come from people switching from carbonated soft drinks. That is the equivalent of avoiding an additional 280 calories per person, per week.
People choose bottled water for many reasons, including its refreshing taste, reliable quality, zero calories and additives, and convenience. Removing bottled water from the retail environment will result in consumers choosing less healthy beverages.
Critics of bottled water often focus on environmental issues as well as bottled water’s safety and regulatory compliance. Strictly regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bottled water is a safe, refreshing, convenient, and consistently reliable beverage choice. By federal law, FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the EPA regulations that govern tap water. And, in some cases, the bottled water regulations are more stringent. As a condition of membership All IBWA bottler plants are inspected annually by an independent, third-party organization.
All bottled water containers are 100% recyclable, and as one of thousands of consumer products packaged in plastic, bottled water has been shown to have a very small environmental footprint. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plastic bottled water containers make up less than 0.03% of the U.S. waste stream. Additionally, PET plastic bottled water containers are the single most recycled item in nationwide curbside collection programs. Recycling rates for single serve bottled water containers are on the rise, doubling in the last five years. And, while the bottled water industry supports strong community recycling initiatives, a continued focus on increased recycling is critical.
Between 2000 and 2008, the average weight of a 16.9 ounce single-serve PET bottled water container dropped by 33%. In fact, many bottled water companies are already using up to 50% recycled material in their plastic bottles.
Continuing to reduce the amount of product packaging that ends up in landfills is important and must focus on all consumer products. In 2010, a study of PET recycling in curbside recycling programs by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) showed that bottled water containers were recycled at a rate of 32.25%, a higher rate than all other packaged beverages.
IBWA is actively focused on telling the positive story of bottled water and reaching out to consumers through traditional media outlets and our broad social media platform. In 2012, IBWA’s main website www.bottledwater.org was completely rebuilt and provides visitors with detailed and accurate information about bottled water. Our advocacy website, www.BottledWaterMatters.org, is the home base for our industry when it comes to explaining key issues and educating consumers about bottled water’s important role in everyday life.
With health issues at the forefront of consumers’ minds, a focus on continued environmental stewardship, and a dedication to consumer choice, the bottled water industry can make a difference in people’s lives by continuing to meet consumer demand for a safe, healthy and convenient product. With the United States facing high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, drinking water – bottled or tap – is healthy decision. Ensuring that convenient access to water as a healthy alternative to sugary beverages helps consumers make smarter choices. When it comes to quenching your thirst, nothing does it better than convenient, healthy, safe, zero calorie bottled water. It’s the smart beverage choice.