Bottled Water Debate

In light of the heightened attention bottled water is receiving, the beverage industry has been working hard to provide media, policy-makers and key stakeholders with the facts behind bottled water products and their environmental impact. The fact is our industry has a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship.

Although critics have attempted to frame the debate in terms of tap versus bottled water, the beverage industry doesn’t see a need for a standoff between the two. Both tap and bottled water serve an important purpose: hydration. And while tap water serves many functions in homes and businesses and is a perfectly fine beverage option, it is not always available when and where consumers need it. Bottled water’s convenience and portability make it easier for consumers to stay hydrated with a refreshing, healthy beverage throughout the day. The bottled water industry is responding to those needs.

Consumers should feel confident that the beverage industry cares about the environment. As far as the environmental impact of bottled water is concerned, the oil figures some activists cite for producing plastic water bottles account for only 0.02 percent of America’s oil consumption. Further, plastic water bottles contribute only one-third of 1 percent to the municipal waste stream.

Nevertheless, the industry is committed to reducing its environmental footprint, which is why we are constantly working to reduce the material in our packaging, become more energy efficient and
improve recycling rates. Our industry also is a founding member, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of the National
Recycling Partnership, which is dedicated to revitalizing recycling.

While the beverage industry recognizes the many environmental concerns that are moving to the forefront, we continue to forge ahead as a leader with a longstanding commitment to environmental efforts. The following are just a few examples of the beverage industry’s commitment to improving its overall environmental impact:

This month, The Coca-Cola Company announced plans to invest $60 million in recycling initiatives, some of which will be used to build the world’s larg-est plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C., to increase PET recycling in the U.S. When complete, it is estimaged that plant will have the capacity to produce approximately 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled PET. Additionally, the company plans to help boost curbside community recycling through expanded partnerships with RecycleBank, among other groups.

In April, Nestlé Waters North America unveiled the lightest half-liter plastic beverage container in the market, which uses about 30 percent less plastic than other similar containers. The first brands using the new Eco-Shape bottle have been Ozarka and Arrowhead, with plans to introduce the new bottles for Poland Spring and additional brands now through the end of the year.

This spring, PepsiCo announced the largest purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (REC) by any company to date. Designed to take place during a three-year period, the credits will offset all purchased electricity by PepsiCo’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities, including its company headquarters, distribution centers and regional offices.

The beverage industry is continuing to innovate around environmental issues. After all, industry knows that using fewer resources is good for both the environment and business. In addition to the efforts of individual companies, the American Beverage Association is bringing industry together in pursuit of cutting edge environmental programs to promote sustainability as a collective industry. We are working together on new recycling and packaging initiatives, as well as water resources ideas, to reduce our environmental footprint and position the beverage industry as a leader on sustainability.