Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bottled Water and the Environment

Annual bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.02%) of the total ground water withdrawn in the United States each year. The bottled water industry uses minimal amounts of groundwater to produce this important consumer product—and does so with great efficiency. Visit the web site of the Drinking Water Research Foundation (www.dwrf.info) for a study summary of the report, “Bottled Water Production in the United States: How Much Ground Water is Actually Being Used?”

Even though it is a minimal groundwater user and is one of among thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users, bottled water companies actively support comprehensive ground water management practices that are science-based, treat all users equitably, multi-jurisdictional, and provide for future needs of this important resource.

Consumers should be aware that bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place. In fact, all bottled water containers--whether plastic, glass or aluminum—are recyclable. IBWA actively supports comprehensive curbside recycling programs, partners with other beverage and food companies, municipalities, and the recycling industry, seeks to educate consumers about recycling, and works to increase all recycling to reduce litter.

The bottled water industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint by using lighter-weight plastics for its containers and increasing the fuel efficiency in the transportation of their products to market.

Convenience-sized water bottles are not a major part of the waste stream, accounting for less than one-third of one percent all waste produced in the U.S. in 2005. Any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must be comprehensive and focus on all consumer goods.

The larger bottles found on many home and office bottled water coolers can be sanitized and re-used an average of 40 times before the bottled water company removes them from the marketplace and recycles them. That is why the bottled water industry is considered one of the “original recyclers.” Larger, single-use bottled water cooler containers are recyclable.

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