June 25, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, VA – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has issued an Executive Directive to ban the purchase of bottled water by San Francisco City and County governments. The Mayor’s order contains a number of misinformed statements. The fact is that bottled water is comprehensively regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the State of California, which mandates stringent standards to help ensure bottled water’s consistent safety, quality and good taste. By law, FDA bottled water standards must be at least as stringent and protective of public health as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for municipal drinking water systems.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) applauds San Francisco for an admirable job of providing safe drinking water to its citizens and stands ready to work with Mayor Newsom and city and county leaders across the country to address the need for safe drinking water for healthy communities. However, the Mayor’s comments and actions only encourages an unnecessary and confusing "bottled water versus tap water" debate. Interestingly, the Mayor has ordered the use of "bottle-less" water dispensers–also known as point-of-use filtration systems–in place of bottled water coolers, rather than drinking water straight from the tap.

It is unfortunate that San Francisco city and county employees will not be able to enjoy the benefits of bottled water because government administrators have focused on one narrow segment of bottled beverages. Bottled water is growing in popularity because people appreciate its consistent quality, taste, and convenience and choose bottled water over the other beverages because it does not contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors or colors, alcohol and other ingredients.

Plastic beverage bottles are among the most recycled packaging in this country and beverage companies continue to reduce the amount of plastic used in their packaging. Rather than focusing on one beverage choice, it would make more sense for our government officials to focus on improving recycling rates for all consumer packaging.

Bottled water is one of thousands of packaged foods and beverages used by consumers every day and bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place. Overall, the bottled water industry, like many others in the food and beverage industry, works to reduce its environmental footprint.

The bottled water industry is also a leader in environmental conservation and stewardship. A study conducted by the Drinking Water Research Foundation shows that annual bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.02%) of the total ground water withdrawn in the United States each year. The bottled water industry uses minimal amounts of ground water to produce this important consumer product-and does so with great efficiency. Even though it is a small ground water user, the bottled water industry has been instrumental in encouraging states to develop comprehensive, science-based ground water management and sustainability policies and laws.