IBWA Comments on Mass. Bottle Bill Expansion

IBWA Comments on Mass. Bottle Bill Expansion

April 10, 2003
The Honorable John J. Binienda

Assistant Majority Leader

Massachusetts House of Representatives

State House

Boston, Massachusetts 02133-1054

Dear Representative Binienda:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the recent proposal by Gov. Mitt Romney to expand the Massachusetts Bottle Law to non-carbonated beverages, including bottled water. This letter is in response to your March 10 request for our industry’s insight into the issue.

By way of background, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the trade association representing all segments of the bottled water industry. Founded in 1958, IBWA member companies include U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and with state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. IBWA also has a Model Code that sets strict standards for bottled water. As a condition of membership, IBWA bottlers must submit to an annual, unannounced inspection for compliance with the Model Code by an independent third party.

The bottled water industry is dedicated to the comprehensive management of bottled water packaging to provide the highest quality, most cost effective and environmentally responsible containers possible. IBWA and its members approach packaging issues in a manner emphasizing the most effective and efficient solutions to reduce the strain on the environment while taking into account the equal responsibility of all solid waste generators. More than any other segment of the food industry, the bottled water industry already contributes significantly to solid waste reduction through the use of refillable containers for home and office cooler service.
For manufacturers, distributors and retailers of bottled water, bottle bills create a financial and logistical nightmare by placing an undue strain on their operations and adding substantial costs to the products. Bottled water has an open system of distribution through a wide variety of outlets that sell and distribute the product. Unlike the beverages currently covered by Massachusetts’s bottle deposit law, bottled water manufacturers do not have direct delivery to retail outlets or franchise territories like beer distributors or soft drink bottlers. Bottled water manufacturers sell to food wholesalers, to drug wholesalers, directly to chain retail stores, to distributors of other products and services, or to consumers directly, to name just a few. Geographic areas or brands of products do not necessarily define these distribution channels. One distributor may carry only a few different brands of bottled water and service a variety of retailers.

Because of this distribution system, the inequities of the current system among retailers, in particular, and distributors will only be exacerbated. How will the costs and the return of the bottled water bottles be handled? The distributors and the retailers of bottled water likely do not have a relationship with the actual bottlers of the product.
To further illustrate the bottled water industry’s position on packaging issues, I have enclosed IBWA’s Bottled Water Packaging Policy Statement. Again, thank you for allowing IBWA to express our concerns to you regarding Gov. Romney’s proposal. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
M. Troy Flanagan

Director of Government Relations