International Bottled Water Association | IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 18, 20110


ALEXANDRIA, VA— The theme of World Water Day 2010, celebrated on Monday, March 22, is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” This United Nations (U.N.) sponsored event is held annually to focus attention on the importance of fresh water, and to advocate the sustainable management of fresh water resources. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and the bottled water industry support World Water Day and recognize the importance of a safe and sustainable water supply.

Water – from the tap or bottle – is essential to life. And bottled water is a clean, safe, convenient and healthy product that consumers find refreshing and use to stay hydrated. “The bottled water industry fully recognizes the importance of protecting the quantity and quality of water,” says Joe Doss, president and CEO of IBWA. “Governments, businesses, communities and individuals must work together to help protect, preserve and provide a clean, safe water supply.”

Over the last several years, the bottled water industry has demonstrated solid environmental leadership when it comes to water conservation and efficiency. Bottled water companies work to utilize and manage water resources in a responsible manner by 1) investing in the best science and technology to improve water quality, 2) strengthening water conservation practices, and 3) bottling and disposing of packaged water products in ways that best serve the environment. To underscore the bottled water industry’s commitment to responsible environmental policies and practices, IBWA will release a new YouTube video, titled “Good Stewards,” on Monday, March 22 that shines a light on some of our members’ sustainability practices.

The bottled water industry uses minimal amounts of groundwater to produce an important, healthy and calorie-free consumer product—and does so with great efficiency In the United States, bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.02%) of the total ground water withdrawn each year. Even though it is a minimal groundwater user and is only one of among thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users, bottled water companies actively support comprehensive ground water management policies that are science-based, multi-jurisdictional, treat all users equitably, and provide for future needs of this important resource. The bottled water industry also supports 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.

In many parts of the world, clean safe water is unavailable or only available in limited quantities. While governments and the private sector work to find permanent solutions to provide clean drinking water in underserved communities around the world, bottled water, combined with other solutions such as filtration and bulk filling stations, is an efficient and effective means of delivering clean, sanitary drinking water where insufficient or non-existent water delivery infrastructure poses life-threatening problems. In addition, a growing number of bottled water companies are designating a portion of their income to support global programs, which help create long term solutions for the provision of water for drinking, sanitation and hygiene in underserved and developing communities.

Consumers across the United States choose bottled water because it is a healthy, refreshing beverage. As a manufactured food product, bottled water is similar to thousands of other beverage and food products that are comprehensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food product. Bottled water has its own stringent FDA manufacturing standards governing its safety, purity and labeling. And by law, FDA standards for bottled water must be as protective of public health as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tap water regulations.

Bottled Water’s Effective Environmental Actions

Consumers should be aware that bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system their local municipality has in place. In fact, all bottled water containers –whether plastic, glass or aluminum—are recyclable. IBWA actively supports comprehensive curbside recycling programs, partners with other beverage and food companies, municipalities, and the recycling industry, as we seek to educate consumers about recycling, and work to increase all recycling to reduce litter. Currently, 30.9% of all bottled water containers are recycled – a record high result for any PET plastic container.

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 to reduce its environmental footprint. By developing and using lighter-weight plastics for its containers, in eight years, the average weight of single-serve bottled water has decreased by over 32%. Recent Life Cycle Inventory studies have verified that bottled water products have a very small environmental footprint.

Bottled water containers make up a very small part of the waste stream, accounting for less than one-third of one percent all waste produced in the U.S. Any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must be comprehensive and focus on all consumer goods.

The larger bottles found on many home and office bottled water coolers can be sanitized and re-used an average of 40 times before the bottled water company removes them from the marketplace and recycles them. That is why the bottled water industry is considered one of the “original recyclers.”

Bottled Water and Emergency Response

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. IBWA and the bottled water industry have worked to develop solutions to better enable federal, state and local emergency response agencies to act with greater efficiency and speed with regard to bottled water distribution and coordination in emergency relief operations. IBWA’s broad-ranging expertise can help government officials better understand the issues involved as they attempt to create a more workable system.

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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.