Alexandria, VA – The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) today issued the following statement concerning attempts to restrict consumer access to bottled water in America’s national parks.
“Efforts to eliminate or reduce access to bottled water in our national parks will force consumers to choose less healthy drink options that have more packaging, more additives (e.g., sugar, caffeine), and greater environmental impacts than bottled water.
In fact, research shows that if bottled water isn’t available, 63 percent of people will choose soda or another sugared drink – not tap water. We expect the same consumer response if access to bottled water is restricted in our national parks. And such a response will therefore not likely reduce the presence of plastic bottles within the recycling streams of our national parks.
The Healthy Consumer Choice
In today’s on-the-go society, most of what we drink comes in a package. Consumers choose bottled water for several reasons, including its refreshing taste, reliable quality, zero calories and additives, and convenience. In fact, since 1998, approximately 73 percent of the growth in bottled water consumption has come from people switching from carbonated soft drinks, juices, and milk to bottled water.
Banning or restricting access to bottled water in the marketplace, including within national parks, directly impacts the right of people to choose the healthiest beverage on the shelf. And for many, bottled water is a critical alternative to other packaged beverages, which are often less healthy. Bottled water must therefore be available wherever packaged beverages are sold.
According to the Institute of Medicine and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, two-thirds of American adults are overweight with one-third of those individuals being obese and over the last 30 years, children’s obesity rates have climbed from 5 percent to 17 percent. Drinking zero-calorie beverages, such as water, instead of sugary drinks is regularly cited as a key component of a more healthful lifestyle. Promoting greater consumption of water from all sources, including bottled water, will support the efforts of park visitors striving for a healthier lifestyle.
All efforts to further increase the availability of clean, safe drinking water in national parks, cities, towns, on college campuses, in the work place, and at home should be encouraged. This, in fact, complements the National Park Services’ own ongoing healthy foods initiative. Bottle refilling stations and water fountains throughout national parks and communities are an excellent opportunity to help promote healthy hydration. But access to bottled water is also a key component of this effort and should not be discouraged, prohibited, or overlooked when discussing water’s role in a healthier lifestyle.
A Good Environmental Steward
The bottled water industry is a strong supporter of our environment and our natural resources. In fact, bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage according to a life cycle assessment conducting by Quantis in 2010.
All bottled water containers are one-hundred percent recyclable. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), the national recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers is now at 38.6 percent; a figure that has more than doubled in the last seven years.
And, the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) found that over the last 11 years (2000-2011) the average weight of a 16.9 ounce (half-liter) single-serve PET plastic bottled water container has dropped by 47.7 percent, to 9.9 grams. Due to carbonation and packaging methods, sodas and sport drink bottles actually require heavier bottles and are therefore not able to reduce the amount of plastic they use.
In fact, many bottled water companies are already using recycled plastic in their bottles and some are producing 100 percent recycled PET water bottles. And, according to NAPCOR, PET plastic bottled water containers are the most frequently recycled PET beverage container in curbside recycling programs.
Of all the plastics produced in the United States, PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.92 percent; less than one percent. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures demonstrate that plastic water bottles make up less than one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream.
The bottled water industry supports strong community recycling programs, including those utilized throughout America’s national parks. The bottled water industry also recognizes the importance of a sustained focus on increasing recycling efforts and we continually look for ways to strengthen those programs ever further. IBWA would be pleased to engage in additional conversations with the national parks about ways in which we might be able to work together on recycling initiatives. ”