Bottled Water-Good for the Body, Not for the Planet
Dec 30, 2008
Who would have thought—the water bottle as a status symbol? You see the ubiquitous water bottles everywhere. Bottled water, from such exotic lands as France, the Fiji Islands and even “water locale”, basic bottled tap water Ã¢â‚¬“ is all the rage. But how environmental are these single-use water bottles?
The non-profit organization, As You Sow, surveyed U.S. beverage companies in 2006, developing a report that spurred Nestle Waters to become the first major beverage producer to support legislation that would increase recycling rates. And this past October, it became the first to support an industry-wide goal to recycle 60 percent of plastic bottles by 2018.
“Historically the beverage industry has lobbied against beverage container legislation,” said Amy Galland, As You Sow’s research director and the report’s author.
“We would like to see the industry either work with legislators to create deposit legislation that will be mutually beneficial, or come together with an alternative method that can achieve that goal of 70 percent or more,” Galland said. The nationwide recycling rate is 33 percent, though states with deposit legislation have rates above 70 percent.
GreenBiz.com reports that just prior to the report’s release, the American Beverage Association announced it would be a founding member of The Climate Group’s Recycle Together initiative, which will work with cities and states to increase recycling rates and develop best practices for recycling in communities.
In the report, “Waste & Opportunity,”, 23 companies (including soda, beer, tea and water bottlers) were evaluated in four categories: reduced use of virgin material, use of recycled content, support for and involvement in recovery and recycling programs and legislation, and communication of goals and achievements, and were graded from A-F, with 4.0 being the highest score possible.
In this year’s report, there were no honor roll students. No A/B Students, even. The valedictorian was Coca-Cola, topping the class with a 2.02 average–barely a C. It’s followed by Anheuser Busch, Pepsi and Nestle Waters, which each received a C-.
Red Bull, Fiji Water and Honest Tea got varying D grades. Some of the remaining companies (National Beverage, Miller, Coors, Monarch Beverage, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Cott, Hansen’s, Starbucks and Crystal Geyser) received F’s, and seven (Adirondack, Arizona, Boston Beer, DS Waters, Jones Soda, New Belgium Beer and Polar Beverage) scored straight zeros.
If I was the Principal at that school, I would make them all take Recycling 101 again—over the summer until they get it right.
To top it off, Nestle has made claims during the past year or so, of having an eco-friendly water bottle because it uses 30% less plastic than it previously had used. This is green washing, at its finest. When you factor in the poor grades these companies received, plus the amount of fuel consumed in transportation, the carbon footprint of bottled water is significant.
If consumers do not want to face mandatory bottle deposit legislation, they should act quickly. Consumers should buy a water filter for their tap water or buy bottled water in gallon-sized jugs, while choosing reusable and recyclable BPA-free water bottles in which to drink it. These bottles, which can be of BPA-free plastic, metal, or even biodegradable plastic, will not end up in landfills—helping to make ensure a greener tomorrow.
Businesses can promote themselves by giving away, or selling, imprinted reusable BPA-free water bottles at trade shows, as a gift with purchase, or just to keep their name in front of their customers. It is a marketing idea that can help save the planet while advertising their brand.
Let’s work together to make reusable water bottles the new status symbol Ã¢â‚¬“not the one-time use bottles. Not only is it good for the environment and your waistline, it is good for your wallet, as well.