International Bottled Water Association | IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 22, 20110


ALEXANDRIA, VA—Anti-bottled activists have produced a new YouTube video entitled “The Story of Bottled Water,” which makes numerous false and misleading statements. Contrary to claims made in the video, bottled water is a safe, healthy, convenient product that consumers find refreshing and use to stay hydrated.

In addition, bottled water companies are good stewards of the environment and continue to take action to reduce their environmental footprint.

Water – from the tap or bottle – is essential to life. And with diabetes, obesity and heart disease on the rise, any efforts to discourage consumers from drinking bottled water (such as “The Story of Bottled Water” video) are not in public interest. The degree to which anti-bottled water activists are misleading the public is evidenced by their alarming and completely false statement that drinking bottled water is equivalent to a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette.

Contrary to claims made in the video, bottled water is comprehensively regulated as a food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) In fact, federal law requires that FDA’s bottled water regulations be as protective of the public health as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for tap water. Moreover, on a gallon for gallon basis, bottled water is required by law to be tested for safety at least 30 times more often than tap water. IBWA and the bottled water industry support a strong and adequately funded municipal water infrastructure. Nearly all U.S. consumers and industries rely on tap water, and every taxpayer and every industry must help ensure that supplies of water from municipal systems are safe and plentiful in the years ahead.

Contrary to claims made in the video, bottled water is actually the nation’s most recycled plastic container, with a 30.9% recycle rate. Bottled water containers, whether made of PET plastic, glass or aluminum, are 100% recyclable and IBWA actively encourages consumers to recycle. The bottled water industry supports and promotes many community and state-based single-stream curbside recycling programs because they effectively capture all recyclable material and not just beverage containers. According to the EPA, bottled water amounts to only one-third of one percent of the U.S. municipal waste stream. Based on that incredibly small figure, it is clear that any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must cover all products and not just target bottled water containers.

By using recycled materials, alternative packaging (PLA, biodegradable and compostable materials), and increasing the fuel efficiency in the transportation of their products to market, the bottled water industry is working hard to reduce its environmental footprint. By developing and using lighter-weight plastics for its containers, during the past eight years, the average weight of single-serve PET bottled water has decreased by over 32%. That’s like removing one out of every three bottles from the waste stream. In 2010, a Life Cycle Inventory study of bottled water by an independent, third-party analyst confirmed that bottled water products have a very small environmental footprint.

To underscore the bottled water industry’s commitment to responsible environmental policies and practices, IBWA has released a new YouTube video, titled “Good Stewards,” [hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iExU-NT-RlA ] that shines a light on some of our members’ successful sustainability practices

There are numerous other factual errors in the video. While bottled water is available in a wide range of price points, activists find the highest single-unit retail price possible and incorrectly extrapolate that price to make an inflated comparison to tap water. Bottled water costs, on average, $1.20 a gallon (Beverage Marketing Corporation data). Consumers have embraced bottled water because it is safe, healthy, convenient product and it fits in with today’s health-and-fitness consciousness, not because they are being manipulated by corporate marketing efforts.

The video completely ignores an important aspect of bottled water. In times of emergency, bottled water is always there when you need it. Floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, boil alerts and other events often compromise municipal water systems. IBWA members contribute millions of gallons of water each year to the affected victims. Lifesaving bottled water cannot be available in times of pressing need without a viable, functioning industry to produce it.

“‘The Story of Bottled Water’ takes a very cynical view of the intelligence of consumers by depicting them as being dupes and victims of industry,” said Tom Lauria, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “But we totally disagree. We think the opposite; that consumers are really quite thoughtful in selecting and enjoying a safe, healthy, convenient, calorie-free beverage that’s delicious, refreshing and a very smart drink choice. That’s the real story of bottled water.”

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703-647-4609 or 703-887-4056

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.