Proposed Bottled Water Ban Not in the Best Interest of San Franciscans

International Bottled Water Association | MEDIA RELEASE | December 18, 2013

Proposed Bottled Water Ban Not in the Best Interest of San Franciscans

Alexandria, VA – The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) today issued the following statement regarding legislation expected to be introduced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors Chairman, David Chiu, to ban the sale of bottled water in plastic bottles of 21 fluid ounces or less, on public property including parks, concerts, large public events, and mobile food trucks.

“The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) supports the right of San Franciscans to choose clean, refreshing, reliable zero-calorie bottled water when making their beverage decisions.  Efforts to eliminate or reduce access to  bottled water will force consumers  to choose less healthy drink options that have more packaging, more additives (e.g., sugar, caffeine), and greater environmental impacts than bottled water.

In fact, research shows that if bottled water isn’t available, 63 percent of people will choose soda or another sugared drink – not tap water.  We expect the same consumer response if access to bottled water is restricted in San Francisco, certainly during events where consumers are seeking convenience, reliability, and portability.

The bottled water industry also supports a strong public water system, which is important for providing citizens with clean and safe drinking water.  In fact, many bottled water companies use public water sources for their products.  This source water is then treated using a multi-barrier approach which may include one or more of the following: source protection, source monitoring, reverse osmosis, distillation, micro-filtration, carbon filtration, ozonation, and ultraviolet (UV) light, and bottled under sanitary conditions.

The Healthy Consumer Choice
In today’s on-the-go society, most of what we drink comes in a package.  Consumers choose bottled water for several reasons, including its refreshing taste, reliable quality, zero calories and additives, and convenience. In fact, since 1998, approximately 73 percent of the growth in bottled water consumption has come from people switching from carbonated soft drinks, juices, and milk to bottled water.

Banning or restricting access to bottled water in the marketplace directly impacts the right of people to choose the healthiest beverage on the shelf.  And for many, bottled water is a critical alternative to other packaged beverages, which are often less healthy.  Drinking zero-calorie beverages, such as water, instead of sugary drinks is regularly cited as a key component of a more healthful lifestyle. Promoting greater consumption of water from all sources, including bottled water, will support the efforts of consumers striving for a healthier lifestyle. Bottled water must therefore be available wherever packaged beverages are sold.

Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a packaged food product and it provides a consistently safe and reliable source of drinking water.  By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that govern tap water.  And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are substantially more stringent.

A Good Environmental Steward
The bottled water industry is a strong supporter of our environment and our natural resources.  In fact, bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage according to a life cycle assessment conducting by Quantis in 2010.

Bottled water recycling rates are also increasing. At nearly 39 percent, the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled between 2003 and 2011. And, bottled water bottles are the most frequently recycled PET beverage containers in curbside recycling programs. In addition, EPA figures demonstrate that plastic water bottles make up less than one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream.

All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable and PET plastic bottled water bottles also use less plastic than any other packaged beverage. Between 2000 and 2011, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce PET plastic bottle declined 48 percent, saving 3.3 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.  Many bottled water companies are already using recycled plastic in their bottles and some are producing 100 percent recycled PET water bottles.”

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Media Contact:
Chris Hogan
[email protected]

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.