IBWA Files Lawsuit Against Deceptive Eco Canteen Ad Campaign

International Bottled Water Association | NEWS RELEASE | July 22, 2009

IBWA Files Lawsuit Against Deceptive Eco Canteen Ad Campaign

Alexandria, VA – On July 21, 2009, The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in response to the current marketing campaign for the Eco Canteen stainless steel beverage container.  In coast-to-coast television ads that have aired almost 1000 times at a substantial cost, Eco Canteen has been making direct comparisons to plastic bottled water products that are false and misleading..  IBWA‘s suit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and damages for unfair and deceptive trade practices and unfair competition under federal law as well as unfair competition under North Carolina law.

“IBWA’s complaint points out that Eco Canteen’s ads are false, misleading, and disparaging of bottled water products,“ said Joe Doss, President and CEO of IBWA.  “We welcome the use of accurate information to inform consumers.  But Eco Canteen should not be allowed to engage in the use of deliberate distortions of fact so as to seriously mislead consumers.”

Before filing this lawsuit, IBWA sent Eco Canteen a letter demanding that that the company “cease and desist” from making false claims about bottled water and its safety.  Despite IBWA’s attempts to resolve this issue cooperatively, Eco Canteen continues to make false and misleading statements about bottled water.  As a result, IBWA had no choice but to bring this action to prevent any further irreparable harm to IBWA and its member companies.

Bottled water is comprehensively and stringently regulated in the United States at both the federal and state levels, which helps ensure its safety and quality.  At the federal level, bottled water is regulated as a packaged food product by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  It must meet FDA’s general food regulations as well as standards of identity, standards of quality, good manufacturing practices and labeling requirements specifically promulgated for bottled water

Every plastic food product container receives prior approval and safety clearance from FDA.  Despite five decades of FDA scientific review and approval of plastic containers for direct food contact, Eco Canteen makes numerous false and misleading statements regarding the safety of plastic food containers without providing the essential and necessary documentation to support such direct and strident advertising claims.

Eco Canteen also criticizes community recycling programs by making an unsubstantiated assertion that recycling of plastic containers “releases dangerous toxins” into our atmosphere.  Recycling programs provide societal benefits and relieve the environment of demands for new raw materials.

Moreover, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the production of plastic containers for bottled water makes up only 0.04 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.  And PET bottled water containers make up only one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.

Although the Federal Court process may take time to complete, IBWA will continue to fight against this false and misleading ad campaign, and to keep the public posted on our efforts to rid the airwaves and the internet of these ads’ false and misleading information regarding consuming or recycling plastic bottled water products, a healthy, convenient and safe food product.


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.