IBWA Communications Guidance and Talking Points on Re-Use of Single-Use, Convenience-Sized PET Bottles

IBWA Communications Guidance and Talking Points on Re-Use of Single-Use, Convenience-Sized PET Bottles

February 7, 2003 (v.2)



Background: A study of the safety of refilling and re-using single-use, convenience-sized PET water bottles conducted by the University of Calgary [Canada] has gained publicity following its release on the Internet and coverage by a number of Canadian news media. To help prepare IBWA members for possible media or consumer inquiries, IBWA offers the talking points below:


Talking Points

    • Bottled water is fully regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), states and, for IBWA members, the IBWA Model Code.
    • FDA has regulated bottled water as a food for decades and, under its basic legal authority that tracks back to 1938, bottled water is held to stringent standards for quality, identity and labeling, and for production and packaging based in current science, technology and FDA Good Manufacturing Practices.
    • Specific government and industry standards dictate how bottled water is produced and packaged so consumers can rely upon its consistent safety, quality and good taste.
    • All bottled water containers must be approved by FDA for food/water contact use.
    • The bottled water industry adheres to standards and goes to great additional lengths to help ensure the safety, quality and good taste of bottled water products by bottling in a sanitary environment, using sanitary, safety-sealed containers. Once a bottled water container is opened, it should be treated with the same respect and care as other food and beverage containers.
    • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is commonly used as a single-use packaging for smaller, convenience-sized bottled water bottles and other beverage and food containers.
    • These convenience-sized PET containers are designed and intended for single use only and easy recycling and compatibility with the recycling system. After consumption of the product, PET containers should be placed in a recycling bin for collection or returned for deposit, where/if applicable.
    • Smaller, convenience-sized PET containers are not designed or intended for sanitation after initial use. They are not intended or designed to withstand high wash temperatures, abrasion or scrubbing.
    • Convenience-sized PET water bottles should not be re-used, similar to other PET beverage bottles (such as for soft drinks, milk or juice) should not be reused as a water or other beverage container and should be properly recycled.
    • The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) does not recommend these containers to be reused by consumers.
    • Larger PET and polycarbonate bottles are commonly used with a water cooler in the home or office.
    • These larger PET and polycarbonate bottles are designed for multiple use, but require proper sanitization, as is done in the bottling plant before refilling and immediately sealing the container for consumer use. In fact, there are specific FDA guidelines called Good Manufacturing Practices, which, among other things, mandate specific container cleaning and sanitation procedures to help ensure consumer safety and product quality.
    • The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. Founded in 1958, IBWA’s membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments — together with the IBWA Model Code — to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products.