Bottled Water Industry Supports Earth Day 2015

International Bottled Water Association | MEDIA RELEASE | April 20, 2015

Bottled Water Industry Supports Earth Day 2015

Alexandria, VA – The bottled water industry celebrates Earth Day by showcasing its efforts and dedication to protecting the environment and natural resources.

“In keeping with this year’s Earth Day theme of ‘It’s our turn to lead,’ the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) demonstrates a sustainable industry focus through its numerous environmental impact-reduction efforts, which are built on a foundation of solid science and smart decisions,” says Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for IBWA.

“From how we responsibly manage water resources to investing in new LEED certified facilities, the bottled water industry is taking a broad-based approach to being good stewards of the environment.”

Water resource management is a very important issue to the bottled water industry, and sustainable, protected, and naturally recharged water sources are the single most important aspect of our business, says Mr. Hogan. “Our commitment to environmental excellence holds true wherever bottled water facilities are located.”

Even with continuing growth and increased consumption, bottled water still has the smallest water and energy use footprint of any packaged beverage. The results of a 2014 benchmarking study show that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages. On average, only 1.32 liters of water (including the liter of water consumed) and 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water.

“The bottled water industry is focused on helping people lead healthier lives and make environmentally friendly lifestyle choices,” says Mr. Hogan.

The industry’s continuing dedication to protecting the environment and natural resources is also demonstrated by:

  • Using less PET plastic to make single-serve bottled water containers.  PET plastic bottled water bottles use less plastic than any other packaged beverage.  And, data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) shows that between 2000 and 2011, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottled water container declined 47.8 percent.  This resulted in a savings of 3.3 billion pounds of PET resin.
  • Increasing the use of recycled PET (rPET) to make bottled water containers.  While bottled water is just one of thousands of consumer items packaged in plastic, many bottled water companies already use bottles made from 50, 75, and in some cases, 100 percent rPET.  The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) states that a total of 1.5 billion pounds of PET were recycled in 2010, including products other than bottled water, and producing new products from rPET uses two-thirds less energy than what is required to make products from raw virgin materials.  It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reinforcing the importance of recycling.  The bottled water industry supports strong community recycling programs.  All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable, and of all the plastics produced in the United States, PET plastic bottled water packaging makes up only 0.91 percent; less than one percent.  And, data derived from EPA figures demonstrates that plastic water bottles make up less than one-third of one percent of the entire U.S. waste stream.  Plastic 3- and 5-gallon bottled water containers are reused between 30-50 times before being recycled.

From an environmental standpoint, when people choose bottled water instead of any other canned or bottled beverage, they are choosing less packaging, less energy consumption, and less use of natural resources.  What’s more, recycling the bottle can cut that impact by an additional fifty percent, if it is re-used to replace virgin PET plastic.

A life cycle inventory (LCI) conducted to determine the environmental footprint of the United States bottled water industry shows that the PET plastic small pack and home and office delivery (HOD) bottled water industries combined represent only 0.08 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  The total energy consumption required for bottled water production, packaging, and transportation is 0.07 percent of total U.S. energy consumption.  The total weight of discarded bottled water packaging materials is also very low; accounting for just 0.64 percent of the 169 million tons of total U.S. municipal solid waste discards in 2007.

“IBWA is dedicated to the responsible management of groundwater resources,” says Hogan.  “As an industry, we support comprehensive water resource management that regulates both the quality and quantity of groundwater, treats all users equitably, provides for the sustainability of the resource, and balances the interests and rights of those using this natural resource today and in the future.”

To encourage a comprehensive approach to effective recycling, IBWA developed its Material Recovery Program (MRP), a collaborative joint venture between businesses and government. The MRP supports the development of new, comprehensive solutions to help manage solid waste in U.S. communities by having all consumer product companies, including bottled water, work together with state and local governments to improve recycling and waste education and collection efforts for all packaged goods.

Environmental stewardship is part of the bottled water industry’s history, and protecting, maintaining, and preserving water resources for future generations is something we take very seriously.  The bottled water industry’s water footprint is very small. Bottled water production from groundwater sources accounts for less than 0.02 percent of the total groundwater withdrawn in the United States each year.  In fact, bottled water uses less than 0.004 percent of all water in the U.S.  To put that in context, the entire U.S. bottled water market is about 11 billion gallons. New York City goes through that amount of tap water in one week; Los Angeles goes through that amount of tap water in less than three weeks.

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NOTE: Photos/head shots available upon request

Media Contact:
Jill Culora

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. 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, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.  

In addition to FDA regulations, IBWA member bottlers must adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is a mandatory annual plant inspection by an independent, third-party organization.  

IBWA is proud to be a partner with Keep America Beautiful and a supporter of Drink Up, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which encourages Americans to drink more water more often – whether from the tap, a filter, or in a bottle. Choosing water is always the healthy choice.