Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

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Friday, September 23rd, 2005

RAI appoints product manager
Amsterdam RAI, the organizer of the Aquatech series of water technology trade expos worldwide, has appointed Xander De Bruine as Aquatech Senior Product Manager. De Bruine joined Amsterdam RAI in 2002 as product manager for Grafivak, a Dutch trade show for print media. He will be responsible for organizing the Aquatech trade exhibitions, working with exhibitors and stakeholders to ensure that Aquatech retains its place as the ‘world’s premier water technology show.’

HydroFlo company names new COO
Deanna Britt, a former Office Manager for HydroFlo, Inc., has been named Chief Operating Officer of Ultra Choice Water, Inc., one of the firm’s newest portfolio companies. Britt will be responsible for running the daily operations, as well as managing any and all marketing and sales responsibilities to promote the company’s opportunities. “She has handled the immense responsibility of her current position with such professionalism that we felt more than compelled to promote her to the level to which she is best suited,” said Dennis Mast, CEO of HydroFlo.

Graziano to lead Water Partnership Council
Leonard F. Graziano, the President and CEO of Severn Trent Services, has been named President of the Water Partnership Council. Serving for a one-year term, he will be responsible for directing the WPC mission to advance the cause of sustainable water quality in the United States by helping communities and companies achieve safer operation of their water and waste water treatment facilities. Based in Washington D.C., the Council is a consortium of water treatment companies promoting public-private partnerships to address water infrastructure and development needs.

Groth named president of ABS
ABS Group, a manufacturer of pumps, mixers, aerators, compressors, controls and other monitoring equipment, has named Fredrik Groth as its newest President. Groth, who joined ABS Group in 2004 as Chief Financial Officer, succeeds former president Peter Aru, now CEO and President of CARDO. Groth has held many general management and finance positions in the industry and spent two years in private equity and venture capital working for the Swedish 6th National Pension Fund.

Zenon appoints VP for Europe
Zenon Environmental has appointed James (Jim) W. Hotchkies as Senior Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. An eight-year veteran of Zenon, he’ll be responsible for helping the company grow business across all market sectors in those regions. “We are strongly committed to expanding our European markets,” said Zenon CEO Andrew Benedek. “For this reason we have selected one of the company’s most promising vice presidents to head up the new structure.”

WEF names Editorial Director
The Water Environment Federation has hired Melissa Jackson as Editorial Director. Jackson will be responsible for managing and directing all aspects of the Magazines and Newsletters Department, including WEF’s flagship publication, Water Environment and Technology. She is the former Director of Publications for the National Insulation Association and served as an editor on ARMY Magazine.

McNeely joins Metals & Arsenic
Metals & Arsenic Removal Technology, Inc. has named Keith McNeely Vice President of Industrial and Municipal Sales. A former District Manager for NALCO Chemical Company, McNeely brings more than 25 years of military and corporate management expertise to the position. He will be responsible for expanding and managing the industrial and municipal markets to ensure the sales and distribution of the company’s MARTI product line continues to be negotiated with major buyers around the world.

Insituform® promotes two
Insituform® Technologies, Inc. has promoted Thomas E. Vossman from Area Vice President for the Southwestern United States to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Tim Minahan from Chief Information Officer to Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Vossman joined the company in January and quickly spurred successes in the southwestern region. He is the former Senior Vice President of Houston-based American Residential Services and Regional President for Encompass Service Corporation. Minahan joined Insituform in 2003 and is responsible for the company’s operational and strategic leadership of networks, help desk, enterprise resource and policy technology planning, telecommunications and related vendor management.

Richardson to lead AWWA
Andy W. Richardson, a principal and Director of the Phoenix and Las Vegas offices of Greeley and Hansen consulting firm, has been named President of the American Water Works Association. Richardson, who took office at ACE05 (the AWWA Annual Conference and Exhibition) succeeds Kathryn L. McCain. “We need to view AWWA and our country’s infrastructures as vital assets we are holding in trust for the next generation to come,” Richardson said in his inaugural address. A 20-year veteran of the association, he chairs the AWWA Strategic Planning Committee and has served on other Board committees, as well as committees on water reuse and international issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois and masters degrees in civil engineering and business administration. His father, William H. Richardson, was AWWA President from 1984-85.

Rowley joins G.A. Murdock
G.A. Murdock, Inc. has appointed Perry Rowley of Rowley International as their new Sales Representative covering Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada. Rowley has more than 11 years experience in the water filtration markets as a District Sales Manager for Oasis Corporation. G.A. Murdock is a manufacturer and distributor of Fluid System products, including quick-connect fittings, valves, and tubing. Rowley can be reached at rowleyinternational@earthlink.net.

Viewpoint

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By Karen R. Smith

Organic advances

Pulling up to the gas pump has become an ever-more expensive prospect as per-gallon prices continue to rise with no end in sight. Could there be a better time to announce the invention of plastic derived from corn instead of fossil fuels?

President Bush signed a new energy bill as this issue went to press, seeking to expand alternatives to the country’s continued dependence on petroleum. Just how reliant are we? Here are some facts, gathered by the 3R Program at Northern Illinois University:

  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is used to make 62 percent of all plastic bottles, most commonly containing milk, detergents, shampoos, pharmaceuticals, juices, bottled water and antifreeze.
  • In 1987, the U.S. used almost one billion barrels of oil just to make plastics.
  • When buried, some plastic material may last for 700 years. (Manufacturers add inhibitors that resist the decomposition process necessary to break down the plastic.)
  • Over 46,000 pieces of plastic debris float on every square mile of ocean.
  • Although polystyrene foam (commonly known as Styrofoam) is completely non-biodegradable, it is recyclable. If you lined up all the polystyrene foam cups made in just one day, they would circle the earth.
  • Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour, yet only one bottle out of four is recycled.
  • Americans make enough low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic every year to shrink-wrap the state of Texas. Most of it ends up in landfills.
  • Plastics are part of the waste stream: although they account for only eight percent of the waste by weight, they occupy about 20 percent of the volume in a landfill due to their low bulk density.
  • In 1988, we used two billion pounds of HDPE just to make bottles for household products. That’s about the weight of 900,000 Honda Civics.
  • Since the introduction of PET containers in the late 1970’s, the industry has reduced the weight of PET in two-liter bottles from 67 grams on average to about 48 grams (a 28 percent reduction).
  • It takes five recycled two-liter bottles to make enough fiberfill for one ski jacket.
  • It takes 1,050 recycled milk jugs to make one six-foot plastic park bench.
  • About nine billion plastic bottles are produced annually in the U.S., roughly two-thirds of which end up in landfills or incinerators.

With these sobering numbers, the switch to corn seems 100 percent positive—and yet, according to Plastic Plight: Going to waste by Kiyohide Inada and Hirotaka Yamaguchi, China’s demand for PET bottles could cause the demise of Japan’s recycling industry. Shipping used PET bottles to China is bringing Japanese municipalities a tidy profit. The authors state that the Japan Containers and Packaging Recycling Association (JCPRA) association will process around 177,000 tons of PET bottles in fiscal 2005, down 7.3 percent from the 191,000 tons in fiscal 2004.

The JCPRA, as well as domestic dealers and processors, are losing out to exporters that annually ship about 100,000 tons of used PET bottles to China. Most of Japan’s used PET bottles end up in Ningbo, a city 150 km south of Shanghai, that has emerged as one of the largest recycling hubs in the world. Each year, the port city receives tons of plastic waste, which is processed and remade into toys, stationery and even cartons for eggs.

Recycling generates significant economic benefits both in the U.S. and abroad. In South Carolina, for example, it’s estimated that it has a $1.4 billion impact—the state recycled more than 1.31 million tons of materials in fiscal year 2003, with 20,000 people employed by the recycling industry as a whole at an estimated payroll of $712 million.

If corn bottles are right for your customers, please call NatureWorks LLC today and make the change. If not, make sure your continued use of PET is environmentally responsible. The two together will ensure industry-wide success.

 

Overcoming the ‘YUCK’ Factor—Flushing out new water resources: The concept of ‘toilet to tap’

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By C. F. “Chubb” Michaud, CWS-VI

The ‘YUCK’ factor
There is a tremendous psychological barrier to overcome before someone will drink apple juice out of a bed pan. Such was the finding of the research published by J. Stigler et al. in a study at Cambridge University in 1990.1 Stigler added that “even when the subjects acknowledged that it was apple juice and that the bedpans had never been used,” they still refused to drink the juice. This reaction of disgust one gets from people faced with drinking their own waste water is referred to as the yuck factor.2 Drinking someone else’s waste would provoke an even stronger reaction—the YUCK factor!

Even though we have the technology to purify any water stream and turn it back into potable water, the YUCK factor persists because the association of recycled water with sewage exists independent of our scientific understanding of the purification process.2 In other words, even though we may believe in the technology and know it already exists to recycle sewage, we still won’t accept the idea of putting filtered toilet water back into the tap.

The need is there
Currently, a number of municipalities recycle highly treated waste water but none for direct supply to the home. The applications are limited to non-potable uses and there are enough large customers for this product (i.e., cities and golf courses for landscape irrigation) that the systems are both practical and inexpensive. Every gallon of water sent to highway landscape irrigation represents the saving of one gallon of virgin water prized by consumers.

Recycling waste water is not a new concept
Pure water does not exist on the planet. All water sources are simply dilute solutions of salt…some more dilute than others. Once the salts are removed through filtration, water is water. It always has been that way. Virgin water does not exist either. All water is used. Some more used than others.

At historical evaporation rates, all the water in the sea is distilled every 2,735 years.3 So over the past 3.5 billion years, water has been used and reused about 1.3 million times. Even that bottle of boutique designer water you’ve been carrying around has been drunk before. Imagine that! Best we all get used to the idea, because recycled drinking water at the municipal level is right around the corner.

While we can accept the fact that Mother Nature is very good at water recycling, we can point out the similarities between the manmade processes and hers. The hydrological cycle chart shown in Figure 1 points out that Nature’s primary source of fresh water is through evaporation from the sea. We use distillation.

Water vapor rises over land, cools and eventually falls to Earth as rain or snow. We call this condensation. Some of this precipitation soaks into the ground and makes a long and tedious trek back to the sea via underground rivers we call aquifers. Along the journey, it is subject to aerobic and anaerobic bacterial attack which removes organics and other nutrients leached from the air and soil it has passed through. Seeping deeper into the ground, it is subject to layer after layer of micro-filtration. As water passes through the soil there is a mineral exchange (ion exchange) which stores certain minerals for the benefit of plants. Water taken up by plants undergoes osmosis. Plants, in turn, store some water as carbohydrates through the process of photosynthesis. Some is lost back to the atmosphere as transpiration. As rain, it will fall again another day in a different land.

Some water runs off the land and collects in rivers, lakes and streams. Cities and towns use this water for municipal supply. After it is used it is given a primary treatment and dumped back into the river—to be used as virgin water by the next town down the line. The watershed that collected the water through brooks, streams, ponds, lakes and rivers could be considered the latrine for all that live there.4 Fish don’t treat their own waste. Neither do bears, horses, cows, birds nor the hikers that enjoy a trip through the woods. Get the picture? In order to supply safe and potable water, municipalities have to do extensive treatment because they are already recycling waste water.

World water resources
There is a total of 326 million cubic miles of water on the planet.5 One cubic mile of water is approximately 3.4 million acre feet. One acre foot equals 324,000 gallons, which is enough water to keep about three American families supplied for a year but doesn’t grow their food. It is interesting to note that there is 10 times the amount of water in the atmosphere than all the rivers of the world combined. It also ranks as the purest natural source of water.

Americans now have at their disposal 1,350 gallons of water per day per capita (see Table 1) with about 85 percent of that going to agricultural needs.6 Given the current rate of depletion and the projected population growth, this amount will decrease to 700 gallons by the year 2050. The minimum water required for human needs, including agriculture is considered to be 700 gpd per capita. Many regions of the world are already below that level.7
    
Stretching water resources by recycling    
Although employed by NASA, water recycling is not rocket science. Aboard the space station, close to 95 percent of all water is proposed to be recycled using conventional filtration techniques.8 This includes perspiration, urine, tears, moisture from respiration and any and all sources of evaporation including all the lab specimens living aboard. Without recycling, the four-man crew would require 40,000 lbs of water per year to be ferried up at a tremendous expense.

Many cities across the U.S. and around the world are also recycling water. They sidestep the YUCK factor by using direct injection or a short run of river. This is called indirect reuse because there is no direct pipe to pipe connection with the city water supply.9 In other words, they give the treated water back to nature for a period of time and then borrow it back again at a later date. By then it has been purified by nature and diluted by virgin water sources. This seems to be the most psychologically acceptable way to recycle. Some of the most notable programs include the following:

Goleta, Calif.
The city of Goleta, Calif. (near Santa Barbara, population 55,000) added tertiary treatment to a portion of their secondary treated waste water and now, instead of discharging all of their treated water to the ocean, resells it to large landscapers. This saves the equivalent of 300 million gallons of potable water each year—enough to service 3,000 new homes. Although this water does not find its way back to the tap, it saves the same amount. Many communities have programs of this type.
Orange County, Calif.

Water Factory (WF) 21 in Orange County, Calif. is one of the best-known projects for water recycling.9 Since 1971, Water Factory has protected groundwater from seawater intrusion by injecting up to 15 million gpd of highly treated reclaimed water that is blend-ed with deep-well water into four coastal aquifers. Half of this water flows inland and supplements potable water supplies to two million people after adequate dwell time underground. WF 21 uses lime clarification, re-carbonation and multi-media filtration followed by GAC and RO plus chlorination. The RO consists of 252 @ 8 inch spiral wound cellulose membranes in a 24/12/6 array. Their permit allows injection of treated water within 2,000 ft. of drinking water wells.

Northern Virginia
The Upper Occoquan Sewage Authority (UOSA) in Northern Virginia was established in 1978 to build and operate a state-of-the-art reclamation plant to replace outdated and ineffective treatment facilities believed to be responsible for the deterioration of water quality in the Occoquan Reservoir. Today, the UOSA supplies about 50 percent of the water for the Fairfax Water Authority serving a population of one million people. Their process includes high pH flocculation, settling, re-carbonation, multi-media filtration, regenerable GAC and ion exchange (ammonia for sodium exchange). The processed water is then chlorinated and de-chlorinated before ultimate discharge to the Occoquan Reservoir.

Denver, Colo.
The Denver Potable Water Demonstration Project operated a 100,000 gpd pilot plant from 1985 to 1992. Using multiple barrier technologies it showed that it was feasible to obtain 90 percent recovery with 95 percent TDS reduction, including 15 organic compounds that were spiked at 100 times the normal levels normally found in the reuse plant effluent. The various components of the system included high pH flocculation, sedimentation, re-carbonation, filtration, UV, GAC, RO, aeration, ozonation, chloramination and ultrafiltration.

Los Angeles, Calif.
Groundwater accounts for one third of the domestic water supplied to Southern California. Originally set up in 1948 and expanded to include three reclamation plants, the Montebello Forebay Groundwater Recharge Project now supplies up to 30 percent of the water (191 million gpd) that is recharged to the Central Basin (the main aquifer underlying the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area). Secondary treatment (clarified) water is heavily chlorinated, passed through media filtration and given 90-minute retention time before de-chlorination and subsequent introduction to the basin.

Tampa, Fla.
Facing a probable supply deficit for meeting water needs by the early 2000’s, the Tampa Water Resource Recovery Project was begun in 1984 to study several methods of possible water reuse. After two years of study, the city decided to build and operate a pilot plant in 1986. Effluent water from an existing waste treatment facility was used as the source water for study. After a two-year study, the project determined that conventional treatment of the waste with pre-aeration, lime treatment and re-carbonation, gravity filtration, GAC adsorption and ozone disinfection could produce a water resource that met or exceeded the quality of other typical raw water sources. A full-scale project is now being investigated. The only real obstacle is public acceptance.

El Paso, Texas
The Hueco Bolson recharge project is a full-scale operating program using essentially 100 percent household waste discharge (less than 0.01 percent industrial discharge) which is treated to potable water quality and injected directly into the primary drinking water source for the city of El Paso. The plant has been operational since 1984 and now consists of two parallel five-million gpd units. Using a 10-step treatment, the process includes screening, de-gritting, primary clarification, equalization, flow equalization, two-stage powdered activated carbon (PAC), lime treatment, two-stage re-carbonation, sand filtration, ozonation, GAC and final chlorination. The water is then sent to clear wells that distribute it to 11 injection wells within the aquifer. The emphasis of the treatment is to obtain better than 96 percent reduction of TOC, de-nitrification, heavy metals removal, phosphate reduction, THMs below 100 ppb and to date, have averaged an impressive plate count of 0 CFU. This aquifer services a population of 250,000 people and represents the case for direct reuse.

Singapore
According to the Center for Water Research, Dept. of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore, the conversion of municipal waste water into reusable water here uses membrane technology utilizing three main treatment processes: microfiltration, RO and UV. Current production is 10,000 m3/d; by 2010 production is expected to make up 15 percent of the country’s water supply. This appears to be possible because of broad cultural acceptance—a distinct lack of the YUCK factor.

San Diego, CA
The San Diego Total Resource Recovery Project, which started in 1974, was undertaken to demonstrate the feasibility of using natural systems for the secondary treatment of waste water with subsequent advanced treatment systems to provide water equivalent to or better than the imported water supplied to the region. Coarse filtration followed by a series of large hyacinth ponds provides the secondary treatment which is the bacterial oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids (SS) reduction process. The ponds contain fish and other aquatic life to control mosquitoes. Tertiary treatment consisted of filtration, chorination, RO (CA membranes), pH adjustment and aeration with a final 30 minutes EBCT GAC tower. Based on extensive performance data taken during the test program, it was concluded that the combination of systems was effective in reliably producing an effluent that could be safely used as a raw water supply. The implementation of a full-scale treatment system is under development with only one stalling point: the pilot systems demonstrated that with modern technology, municipalities could remove every objectionable contaminant from waste water except for one—the YUCK factor.

Summary
Simple conservation of our water resources is not enough to provide for a doubling of the world population over the next 50 years. Experience has shown (through extensive pilot plant and operational plant trials) that waste water from sewage treatment effluent can be a safe and valuable source of new water for unlimited use. The ultimate in recycling is to process any and all sources of water, including storm runoff and street drainage back into potable water through the municipal supply channels and simply put that water back into the reservoirs. This would eliminate the need for separate distribution systems and re-plumbing the whole city. To that end, there would be an inexhaustible supply of drinking water for all societies.

The YUCK factor, however, may be too ingrained to make this idea universally acceptable. Then again, any reclaimed waste water used for any application that would normally use potable water as its source saves water and creates an alternative supply. A gallon recycled is a gallon saved. It’s like water in the bank.

In the parched western U.S., many municipalities (notably in Southern California) have tried to restrict the use of water softeners under the guise that the added TDS from the salt discharge would make it more difficult to discharge their waste water or recycle that water for the purpose of irrigation. Full-blown recycling addresses the TDS issues and the indirect reuse allows for time and dilution with other water sources which will bring the quality of the reclaim well within the potable water specs. Waste water is a misnomer. We should simply think of treatment plant effluent as another valuable natural resource.

The biggest obstacle is public perception; the biggest task their education as to the need, safety and value of water re-use. We have the technology and have demonstrated with confidence that we can connect the toilet directly to the tap.

References

  1. Stigler, J., Shweder, R. & Herdt, G., Cultural Psychology, pp 205-232, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1990.
  2. Rozin, P., Nemeroff, C., The Laws of Sympathetic Magic, Univ. of Penn., 1990.
  3. Gleick, P., The World’s Water, Inland Press, 2000.
  4. Waldie, D.J., Los Angeles’ Toilet-to-Tap Fear Factor, L.A. Times, Dec 1,2002.
  5. Department of the Interior, U.S. Govt., Geological Survey, 2000.
  6. Pimentel, David, et al, Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy, Cornell University, Nov 1994.
  7. Belyaev, V., Institute of Gepgraphy, U.S.S.R. National Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1987.
  8. Barry, Patrick L., Water on the Space Station, NASA web page, 2000.
  9. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website, Indirect Potable Reuse Projects, Case Studies, 1996-2005.

About the author
C.F. “Chubb” Michaud is the CEO and technical director of Systematix Company, of Buena Park, CA, which he founded in 1982. An active member of the Water Quality Association, Michaud is a member of the Board and of the Board of Governors and currently chairs the Commercial/Industrial Section (since 2001). He is a Certified Water Specialist Level VI. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Pacific WQA since 2001 and chairs its technical committee. He was a founding member of (and continues to serve on) the technical review committee for WC&P and has authored or presented over 100 technical publications and papers. He can be reached at Systematix Inc., 6902 Aragon Circle, Buena Park CA 90620, telephone (714) 522-5453 or via email at cmichaud@systematixUSA.com

Harvesting the Future: Water Bottles Made from Corn-Based PLA Plastics

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By WC&P International Staff

PLA is the future of the bottled water industry and the entire packaging industry. The green revolution has burst into the drinking water industry like a bag of microwave popcorn. New technology has created biodegradable plastic bottles out of corn. Bottled water manufacturers can shed the stigma of PET and the criticism from a growing number of environmental groups (and consumers) who find the lifespan of a typical disposable water bottle unacceptable. This new corn technology, known as Polylactide Acid (PLA) is as durable as PET plastic, has identical clarity and appearance to conventional water bottles yet it biodegrades in 100 days instead of more than 2,000 years.

Developed through a 50/50 partnership between The Dow Chemical Company and agriculture giant Cargill Corp., PLA plastics are sold through the company NatureWorks LLC and are already in use in a variety of food manufacturing sectors for packaging, labeling and more. The company markets the products under the name NatureWorks™ PLA and Ingeo™ Fiber. In late 2004, the technology debuted in the form of a water bottle by BIOTA Spring Water of Colo., which is poised to become the torchbearer for a new era in bottled water manufacturing.

PLA technology
The technology to produce Nature Works™ PLA allows an abundant, annually renewable resource (ordinary field corn) to replace a finite one (petroleum) in food packaging, food service disposables and consumer goods packaging applications.

  • NatureWorks’ proprietary process for manufacturing PLA centers on the fermentation, distillation and polymerization of a simple plant sugar, corn dextrose. The company essentially harvests the carbon stored in the sugars to make PLA, a polymer with similar characteristics to traditional thermoplastics.
  • The company operates a global-scale facility in Blair, Neb., capable of producing more than 140,000 metric tons (300 million pounds) of NatureWorks PLA per year.

Applications
Like PET, there are a host of applications in the bottled water industry where PLA could be utilized. From water bottles to labels, the corn-based plastic presents the opportunity to develop a product that is 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable:

Rigid thermoforms
In addition to outstanding gloss and clarity, the relative ease of processing that PLA exhibits in extrusion and thermo-forming enables it to be used for both conventional and form-fill seal applications. Its stiffness enables more efficient down-gauging versus incumbent materials like PET and the environmental attributes make PLA a preferred packaging alternative where consumer appeal and/or disposal requirements are significant issues. A host of conventional blow molder manufacturers are currently marketing new systems with the capability of using PLA plastics (See this month’s Executive Insight column) and many systems can be seamlessly converted to PLA use with minimal disruption.

Films and bags
With its excellent performance capabilities and a unique blend of physical properties, PLA is well suited for a wide range of applications in the film market including heat-seal overlays, flow wrap, twist wrap, labels and carrier bags. It is being marketed as an alternative to cellophane and a low-temperature, heat-seal layer and/or flavor and aroma barrier in co-extruded structures where its combination of properties allows layer simplification or replacement of nylons.
Performance attributes

NatureWorks PLA exhibits several performance attributes that make it an attractive and versatile polymer to packaging manufacturers and brand owners in the packaging industry:

  • Surface adhesion—Accepts coatings to properly adhere a label to the packaging surface
  • Breathability—Moisture can pass through films and rigids minimizing condensation.
  • Clarity and gloss—Exhibits less than five percent haze.
  • Flavor and aroma barrier—Tests prove excellent resistance to most oils and fats used in food products.
  • Printability—Natural surface energy readily acceptable for many ink formulations.
  • Stiffness—Allows for down-gauging versus materials like PET.
  • Heat seal—Initiation temperatures are as low as 180oF (80oC), with heat seal strengths of greater than two lb./inch. Lower temperature allows for faster sealing and increased output.
  • Dead-fold—25 percent better than cellophane, which means products stay packed and spoilage or waste from open packages is reduced.

The environmental impact
A PLA bottle is derived entirely from corn, making it an environmentally preferable option to petroleum-based plastic packaging. In addition to its natural source benefit, the production of PLA uses up to 50 percent less petroleum and contributes 40 percent less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than traditional plastic materials generate in production. PLA is also compostable in commercial compost facilities and offers future potential for additional reclaimation methods like hydrolysis (chemical recycling).

Presence in the water industry
“With an explosion of waters, juices, teas and other drinks crowding the beverage case, it’s easy for new products to get lost in the clutter,” said Brian Glasbrenner, business development manager with NatureWorks LLC. “That’s why beverage companies have sought a new path to innovation: a one-of-a-kind bottle.”

PLA already exists in the water industry in a handful of small, but successful operations. The Tipperary Natural Mineral Water Company, based in Tipperary, Ireland, is turning away from traditional paper and plastic cups and stocking its water coolers with PLA drinking cups, the first in Europe to make the switch. Tipperary began initial deliveries of more than 500,000 cups and anticipates replacing its entire water cooler service of 30 million single-use cups in the near future.

Marrying product and package, BIOTA (www.biotaspringwater.com) is the first to bottle products in corn-based NatureWorks™ PLA and they are relying on the natural packaging to help them successfully vie for shopper attention and shelf space. BIOTA is an acronym for “Blame It On The Altitude,” but the ancient Greeks also used the term to mean way of life. BIOTA Rocky Mountain Spring Water comes from one of the highest natural alpine springs in the world, located above Ouray, Colo. The film labels on the bottle are also made of PLA and although the cap is still traditional plastic, BIOTA is investigating options to make the cap from a more ‘earth-friendly’ material.

BIOTA water is the perfect combination of premium spring water and environmental respect,” said BIOTA CEO David Zutler, who markets the product as PLAnet-Friendly Water. “Our PLAnet-friendly packaging, long-sought by consumers, clearly positions BIOTA to stand out as the best choice among bottled waters worldwide.”

A United Kingdom-based company, Belu Spring Water (www.belu. org) also recently announced plans to use PLA for its water bottles. The company has integrated the eco-friendly plastic into its overall marketing campaign for the product and Belu has quickly gained popularity in Britain as ‘socially responsible water’. All the profits from sales of Belu, which is available in many high-end restaurants and grocery chains, are donated to clean water projects in the Third World.

Bottles with a difference
Like PET, the corn-based plastic permits a multitude of varied and complex bottle shapes and sizes to draw the consumer’s attention. Monolayer PLA bottles can be formed on the same injection-molding/stretch blow-molding equipment used for PET, with no sacrifice in production rate. In addition, sensory paneling of several foodstuffs stored in PLA bottles show the corn-based material offers comparable organoleptic properties (similar taste, smell, feel and look) to glass and PET—confirming the suitability of PLA for food and beverage bottling.

What’s different about PLA is the range of disposal options afforded by the plastic’s natural source. Most PET bottles end up in landfills, but PLA has the flexibility to be disposed of in several manners—including composting and recycling—which means it can play a key role in landfill diversion.
Testing of PLA bottles shows they will degrade in commercial composting conditions in about 75 to 80 days, Glas-brenner said. Additionally, NatureWorks has been following guidelines set by the Association of Post-consumer Recyclers (APR) in its Champions for Change program to ensure the successful integration of PLA into the U.S. recycling stream. Recycling facility trials show PLA can be collected through current plastic recycling channels and the technology exists to efficiently separate PLA from other commonly recycled materials.

NatureWorks hopes to stair-step from dairy and water to juices and ready-to-drink teas and is developing these applications with several beverage companies. “With increasing consumer demand for more environmentally responsible packaging solutions, we’re expecting more beverage companies to look to natural bottles as a way to send a message about their brand,” Glasbrenner said.

About NatureWorks LLC
Based in Minnetonka, Minn., Nature Works LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available polymers derived solely from annually renewable resources with cost and performance that compete with petroleum-based packaging materials and fibers. The company applies its unique technology to the processing of natural plant sugars to create a proprietary polylactide polymer, which is marketed under the NatureWorks® PLA and Ingeo™ fiber brand names. For more information about NatureWorks and its brands, visit www.natureworksllc.com

Zenith Report: Part 3. Flourishing Growth for Flavored Water in West Europe

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By Sophie Carkeek

Runaway growth in West Europe’s flavored water market is the result of consumer demand for drinks that combine good taste with an enhanced sense of well-being, according to the 2005 West Europe flavored water report from leading drinks consultancy Zenith International. Volumes raced ahead by 17 percent to reach 1,115 million liters in 2004, despite the damp squib of a poor summer.

Benefiting from the purity and healthiness associated with bottled water, flavored waters stand out as thirst-quenching lighter alternatives to soft drinks, while offering an interesting change from plain bottled water. A small but rising number of flavored waters also provide added value through the inclusion of functional ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and herbs.

Individual national markets vary considerably in the types of products available and volumes sold. Austria, which has the highest consumption per person, is led by exotically flavored functional brands that contain an array of health-promoting ingredients. Many northern countries are characterised by unsweetened sparkling products that are simply flavored with either lemon or lime.

The United Kingdom spearheads the West European market with a 26 percent volume share, closely followed by Germany and France. Together the trio account for over 70 percent of total sales. Danone’s Volvic fruit-flavored water is the leading brand of all three. Other markets, especially in southern Europe, are still in the early stages of development. Flavored water evidently offers considerable untapped potential to bottled water and soft drinks companies alike.

“In addition to leveraging the considerable pull of several of Europe’s best-known bottled waters, flavored water products are increasingly marketed under brands from other segments such as sports drinks and iced tea,” commented Zenith’s Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. “Flavored waters provide manufacturers with the ultimate in flexibility. At present, the sheer variety of flavors and functional ingredients on offer enables each brand to carve out its own niche.”

Zenith forecasts the West European flavored water market will continue to grow by an average of 13 percent a year to pass 2,000 million liters by 2009.

For further information, please contact: Sophie Carkeek, Zenith International Ltd., 7 Kingsmead Square, Bath BA1 2AB, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0) 1225 327900; fax: +44 (0) 1225 327901; Email: info@zenithinternational.com; Website: www.zenithinternational.com

Zenith Report: Part 2. Information Flow

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By Kirstin Gradl

Still growing.” “Sparkling performance.” “Water surges.” The years may pass, but the headlines relating to the performance of the bottled water sector remain the same. It goes without saying that 2004 was another good year for the sector, with a global advance of nearly nine billion liters—despite the fact that consumption fell by nearly two billion liters in West Europe. This means that nearly 50 billion liters has already been added to bottled water consumption in the new millennium and it now stands at nearly 165 billion liters.

Convenience growth
Almost 20 billion liters of this increase has come from Asia, which has risen from being on a par with Latin America at around one fifth of the total to a leading 26 percent share. As recently as 2003, Asia trailed West Europe by more than four percentage share points, but the combination of a 2004 decline in West European volume and a strong 2004 upturn in Asian volume has seen an eight billion liter ‘swing’ sufficient to take Asia past West Europe.

The source of this growth by segment raises a few surprises, with only around 40 percent coming from bulk water. Five percent has come from sparkling waters, but the majority—perhaps unexpectedly, given that we are talking volume here and not value—has come from convenience and take-home packs in the size range from 20 centiliter to 2 liters.

This is quite an achievement. For every five-gallon (18.9 liter) container added, there would need to be just over one and a half cases of 50 centiliter convenience size bottles sold—definitive evidence of the robustness of convenience growth relative to bulk.

Examining segment growth from a regional perspective, 60 percent of bulk’s uplift has come from Asia Pacific, a further fifth from Latin America and one eighth from Africa and the Middle East. Europe—West and East—accounts for only about six percent of the gain and the stagnating North American market for just two percent. All sparkling growth has come from Europe.

However, when it comes to still water in packs up to two liters, all regions are making contributions—the most significant, at around one third each, from Asia Pacific and North America. Europe combined accounted for around half that, with Latin America and Africa and the Middle East contributing seven percent and six percent respectively.

The Big Four
What of the leading players? By volume, Danone has maintained its position as the global number one, with its Asian interests providing a sizeable platform. Asia was responsible for more than a third of its global sales at the turn of the new millennium. That share is now above 40 percent. Asia thus accounts for around half of the volume that the group has added since 2000.

Another trend within Danone’s portfolio has been the increase in the importance of HOD/bulk packs. In 2000, one fifth of its volume came from HOD/bulk, primarily from Aqua in Indonesia and its U.S. interests. The intervening years have seen many acquisitions in China, the U.S., Mexico, Poland and West Europe, with the result that HOD/bulk’s contribution has doubled to just over 40 percent. Around 70 percent of the company’s volume increase since 2000 has come from HOD/bulk. By value, of course, the contribution is considerably smaller.

However, there is some question as to whether 2005 and 2006 will see Danone remain the global leader. Last year it sold Italaquae in Italy, representing a drop of over 700 million liters of its global sales. The group has also ceded its North American small pack interests to Coca-Cola through the sale of its 49 percent stake in DWNA. On top of this, the future ownership of the U.S. HOD business held jointly with Suntory has yet to be resolved—and the sales total more than two billion liters. Some of this shortfall will be made up by organic growth in the developing world, but continued global leadership is by no means guaranteed.

Nestlé lays claim to global leadership by value, but is now presenting a closer challenge by volume after having been overtaken by Danone in 2003. North America, France, Germany and Italy have always accounted for the greater part of Nestlé sales. North America made a 36 percent contribution in 2000, with the West European trio taking a further 44 percent.

In 2004, the combined volume share of these five markets was down to 74 percent. North American success has enlarged its share to 44 percent. Despite French, German and Italian sales moving ahead by 22 percent, their share has now fallen to 30 percent. By value, of course, the role played by these five countries is considerably higher.

In common with Danone, Nestlé has made a number of acquisitions at the beginning of the 21st century. Like Danone, it has bought into HOD in Poland and West Europe. Previously both groups’ interests had been almost exclusively in the United States. Acquisitions have also been made in Canada and the U.S. as well as—alongside Danone—in Argentina. Nestlé is now number one in Russia and Hungary. Until recently, it was also more likely to be adding interests in the Middle East—Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt—than in the Far East.

Danone definitely ‘stole a march’ in Asia and this helped to underpin its assumption of global volume leadership. However, Nestlé has long been the dominant player in Pakistan and last year it developed joint ventures in South Korea with Pulmuone and in Indonesia with Coca-Cola. It has also registered strong organic growth in China and, to a lesser extent, India.

Nestlé has focused in particular on the expansion of Nestlé branding—notably Pure Life as an affordable purified water for the developing world and Aquarel as a good value pan-European spring water. With the transition of Aberfoyle in North America to Nestlé Aberfoyle Pure Life, Pure Life is now a brand nearing sales of two billion liters a year, while in 2000 it barely existed. It is currently in 19 countries in small pack, 13 of these in HOD too. Aquarel is in more than 16 markets, with HOD in three.

The other major global players, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have also favored the international brand route, although neither of the two appears yet to have settled on a single brand strategy.

Coca-Cola appears to have a number of candidates. Bonaqua/Bonaqa is currently present in the largest number of markets, primarily in Europe. The water is now sold in Spain under the name Aquabona.

However, Dasani has been canvassed as a preferred contender and is now available in more than 20 countries, roughly half in Central America and the Caribbean, and a further half dozen in Africa—Burundi, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and Uganda. Ciel is another significant brand, predominantly in Mexico and Angola. It features a bottle shape shared by at least three other water brands from Coca-Cola—Turkuaz in Turkey, Arwa in the Middle East and Joy in Vietnam.

Coca-Cola’s bottlers are also displaying a commitment to bottled water. The most notable is Coca-Cola HBC, which has made a number of acquisitions in the last three years, mainly in East and Central Europe. FEMSA Panamco in South and Central America and Coca-Cola Amatil in Australasia have both been active, too.

At first glance, PepsiCo has more than one possibility for international brand status, with Aqua Minerale present in nearly a dozen East European markets and Aqua Diamant in a further two. However, there is little doubt that Aquafina will be in the vanguard of any new expansion of PepsiCo’s bottled water interests.

Sold in more than ten countries now, 2004 saw Aquafina become a near two billion liter brand. Whilst more than 80 percent of this volume was derived from North America and a still higher proportion by value, notable bridgeheads have been made in India, Vietnam and the Middle East, as well as more marginal sales in Spain. PepsiCo is taking some of its biggest strides in non-carbonates and has perhaps yet to develop a fully international—as opposed to regional or national—strategy for Aquafina.

Flavored and functional
While the bottled water market is not without innovation and product development, flavored and flavored-functional waters are proving to be even more dynamic in this regard. Zenith quantifies this market at 4.8 billion liters globally; 24 percent of this is from Japan, a further 23 percent from West Europe, with the U.S. (10 percent), China (eight percent) and Argentina (five percent) also key markets.
Once again, the leaders are the usual suspects, with Danone out in front of Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo. Each fields a number of brands, Danone’s portfolio is dominated by Volvic Touch of Fruit, Mizone and Ser and also includes Badoit, H2Go, Primavera, Shape, Taillefine and Vitalinea, with a number of these also available in plain versions. Nestlé has long offered flavors for Perrier and Vittel, but has added more esoteric brand development in Perrier Fluo and Vittel + Energie. Its Contrex brand has an Eaux Plus range, while brands such as Nestlé Pure Life, Poland Spring and Fürst Bismarck have more straightforward flavored variants. One of the latest slow burners is Nestlé Wellness, launched in Germany and now available in some neighboring markets. Nestlé Water Care is another newcomer in China.

Coca-Cola has its own wide selection from Dasani flavors in the United States to flavored and sports water variants of Bonaqua in Europe, as well as Aquana, Aquarius and most recently Powerade Option sports water. PepsiCo has had particular success with Propel fitness water, which is now being extended beyond its U.S. origins. Like Coca-Cola and Nestlé, it is also exploring its North American flavored water options with Aquafina.

Other important players include Suntory and Kirin in Japan, Römerquelle and Vöslauer in Austria, Spadel in Northern Europe and the trio of Fruit20 (Kraft), Clearly Canadian and Glaceau in North America. At a global level, the Czech brand Podebradka also makes an appearance thanks to the popularity of such products in the Czech Republic, where consumption per person stands at 57 liters per year—against a three-liter European average and 0.8 liters globally.

The future
What of the future? We expect the strong growth seen between 2000 and 2004 to continue, with at least 10 billion liters being added in each of the next five years. More than 40 percent of this is expected to come from Asia, which should rise to represent 30 percent of the global total. West Europe could slip to 22 percent, with North America up a little to 17 percent, overtaking Latin America. Such a profile would give North America just under one fifth of the extra volume overall.

By segment, 63 percent of this increase is forecast to come from convenience/take-home packs and only one third from bulk. Underpinning this success, Zenith believes, will be greater availability through improved distribution infrastructure and channel reach, high consumer confidence in product quality and the ongoing spread of bottled water’s hydration message. Bottled water’s multi-occasion appeal will become more evident, particularly in relation to other soft drink alternatives.

However, price competition will also play a part and while branding and industry margins may improve, commodi-tization may exacerbate pressures at the bottom end of the market. The growth will still be there, but each and every business will need to consider its own offering and positioning carefully. If companies produce what the consumer wants where it is wanted, in the appropriate format and to the requisite quality, branding will be reinforced and profits realized. If it becomes just water, bottled—branding and margins will be difficult to sustain. The future of the industry remains in its own hands.

About the author

Kirstin Gradl is a Senior Market Consultant for Zenith International Ltd. She may be contacted at tel: +44 (0) 1225 327900; fax: +44 (0) 1225 327901; or via email: info@zenithinternational.com

 

Zenith Report: Part 1. Quenching a Thirst in the Middle East and Asia: Bottled Water Consumption Breaks 50 Billion Liter...

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By Paul Tarling

Bottled water sales in Asia and the Middle East rose by 11 percent to reach 51 billion liters in 2004, according to the latest Asia/Middle East Bottled Water report from specialist food and drink consultancy Zenith International. Produced in conjunction with the Asia Bottled Water Association (ABWA), the study shows continuous double figure growth rates, raising consumption per person from 6.7 liters in 1999 to 13.2 liters in 2004.

Total market volume in Asia and the Middle East has more than doubled in the past five years and now represents 32 percent of global consumption, compared with 24 percent in 1999.

Bottled water fulfills different needs for different parts of the Asia/Middle East region, ranging from the security of pure water from a trusted source to the health benefits associated with proper hydration,” commented Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. “The impetus behind bottled water, in terms of growth and long-term opportunity, is immense.”

The profiles of the Asia and Middle East markets offer significant contrasts. Asian countries are often young and emerging, with evolving distribution structures and a rapid influx of new players. The Middle East also has some new emerging opportunities, but is more generally characterized by a mature and well established bottled water industry.

Among the main findings of the 2005 study, Zenith reports that:

  • Despite price pressures, the retail value of the Asia/Middle East bottled water market advanced to U.S. $11.1 billion in 2004.
  • Consumption per person varies greatly. Asian consumers bought an average of 11.0 liters per person last year, while those in the Middle East purchased more than triple this figure (36.5 liters), including some countries where everyday usage has contributed to substantially higher levels.
  • Asia is by far the bigger market, accounting for 76 percent of regional volume, with the Middle East claiming the remaining 24 percent. Asia’s share is forecast to increase over the next five years.
  • Recent growth has been driven mainly by China, Indonesia and Turkey. These three countries alone contributed 58 percent of all volume growth between 1999 and 2004.
  • There are now nine countries where bottled water consumption exceeds one billion liters. Seven of these are in Asia—China, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, India, Japan and the Philippines. The other two are Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
  • Indonesia’s Aqua Group is the largest bottled water producer in the region, followed by Chinese firms Wahaha and Robust, Thailand’s Boon Rawd and Saudi Arabia’s Al Manhal.

A number of issues are identified by Zenith as key to the future. These include: developments in the ongoing acquisition and route to market programs of the major international bottled water players—Nestlé, Danone, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo; the threat of price erosion; the need to uphold quality standards; the impact of unregulated waters on the scope for regulated branded products; the pace of structural change in retailing and the entrenchment of bottled water consumption habits.
As bottled water becomes increasingly accepted across Asia and the Middle East, Zenith predicts that consumption will continue climbing rapidly, to reach 76 billion liters by 2009.

“In terms of future growth, Asia and the Middle East represent an exciting opportunity, with the market expected to rise by over 25 billion liters in the next five years,” Roethenbaugh concluded. “China is the main country to watch as it stretches its lead to an anticipated 28 percent volume share in 2009.”

About the author

Paul Tarling is a Communications Representative with Zenith International Ltd., 7 Kingsmead Square, Bath BA1 2AB, United Kingdom.

“Zenith’s 2005 Asia/Middle East Bottled Water Report” contains 231 pages with 46 comprehensive tables and charts, 22 country profiles setting out economic indicators plus volume/value/company/brand data and a full market commentary. To obtain a full copy of the report, contact Tarling or Zenith International at Tel: +44 (0)1225 327900, Fax: +44 (0)1225 327901 or E-mail: ptarling@zenithinternational.com. For more information regarding Zenith International, visit www.zenithinternational.com

IBWA 47th Annual Convention and Trade Show

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

By Bridget Wells

Statistics by Beverage Marketing Corporation show U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continuing to rise as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2004 bottled water consumption of nearly 6.8 billion gallons, an 8.6 percent increase over 2003 and a 2004 bottled water per capita consumption level of 23.8 gallons, compared to 22.1 gallons per capita the previous year.

These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants, at home or the office. What consumers may not know is that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water as a packaged food product with stringent standards for safety, quality, production, labeling and identity. State governments further regulate bottled water and for members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the industry requires additional standards through the IBWA Model Code, which are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent, third-party organization.

Along with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are required of all foods, bottled water must comply with several other applicable regulations, including Standards of Identity, Standards of Quality and additional, specific bottled water GMPs. Being a packaged food product, bottled water is also bound by the Nutrition Labeling Education Act (NLEA) and the full range of FDA protective measures designed to enforce product safety and protect consumers. States also have the authority to regulate bottled water and to inspect, sample, analyze and approve bottled water sources. Testing laboratory certification is another area where states may regulate bottled water. As part of the IBWA Model Code, association members voluntarily utilize the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) for a science-based approach to bottled water production and safety (see this month’s Water Matters column for a detailed explanation of HACCP). FDA recognizes HACCP as a key component of food safety and consumer protection.

As the bottled water industry reaches new heights, customers, consumers, regulators and lawmakers continue to demand bottled water’s consistent safety and quality. Add to that bottled water’s convenience and good taste and you have an industry that must embrace technologies and processes that enable it to produce the best product possible, while still maintaining profitability, high levels of service and production and distribution efficiency.

At the forefront of the industry, the IBWA provides opportunities throughout the year for education and training, and presents a variety of forums to foster interaction among the industry’s bottlers, suppliers and distributors. IBWA is committed to nurturing innovation and the exchange of ideas to help write new chapters in the bottled water success story. Innovation can come in the form of one good idea or a new relationship, and the IBWA Convention and Trade Show—“Quality Through Innovation,” September 27-30, 2005 in Orlando, Fla., balances all the elements to deliver a total state-of-the-art event.

Who should attend?
Anyone and everyone who has an interest in the bottled water industry should be at the show; including bottlers, manufacturers, marketers, distributors, suppliers, food technologists and newcomers of every ilk. Attendees keep up-to-date on technologies and trends that will put you ahead of your competitors in a constantly changing industry.

If you are serious about the bottled water business, interested in checking out the latest products and services, learning how to improve your business, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry and networking with influential people, then the IBWA Convention and Trade Show is where you need to be. Industry professionals from around the world will converge on the Orange County Convention Center and the Rosen Centre Hotel at the premier convention and trade shows of its kind.

The IBWA Convention and Trade Show offers attendees and exhibitors a real-world marketplace where they can connect with decisive buyers, quality products and services and a broad base of educational programs designed to drive business growth, heighten profitability and increase real-world knowledge of key industry technology, issues, trends and innovations.
Exhibitors

At no other time during the year will your company have such a convenient and efficient means to reach a concentrated and influential group of buyers in one location.

The IBWA trade show brings the bottled water industry together under one roof. You will find more opportunities than ever to network, to learn and to source equipment, products and services. Plus, IBWA social events allow members to catch up with all that’s happening in the industry with friends old and new.

General session and special events
Below is a schedule of the events planned by IBWA during the convention and trade show. Remember, with so many unique exhibitors and new technologies on display at the show, this list of activities is by no means exhaustive, but will give you an excellent opportunity to plan your stay and prepare for the show.

Conclusion
The 47th Annual IBWA Convention and Trade Show delivers the key information and contacts necessary for the industry to continually innovate and enhance bottled water safety and quality. It is simply the single, best event to find creative solutions and share tools, techniques and best practices, as well as an opportunity to position your product and generate leads from a one-of-a-kind, qualified audience of national and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. The IBWA Convention and Trade Show is the one opportunity of the year to efficiently reach a targeted and influential audience of bottled water suppliers and buyers. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

About the author

Bridget Wells is the Manager of Commu-nications for the International Bottled Water Association, the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. Founded in 1958, IBWA’s membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the FDA, which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. In addition to FDA and state regulations, the Association requires member bottlers to adhere to the IBWA Model Code, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Model Code is an annual, unannounced plant inspection by an independent, third party organization. Consumers can contact IBWA at 1-800-WATER-11 or log onto IBWA’s web site (www.bottledwater.org) for more information about bottled water and a list of members’ brands.

Bottled Water Certification Audits: The New Focus on the Process and Impact on Treatment and Treatment Equipment

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

By Loren Merrick

The water related certification programs at NSF International are certainly closely linked. Much of the credibility of the Bottled Water, Drinking Water Treatment Unit, Water Additives and Plastics/Plumbing programs relates to and builds on our expertise in each of the other programs. Drinking water treatment especially has been closely related to the bottled water certification and bottled water producer trade association audit programs. Virtually all bottled water has some sort of treatment, from simple sediment filtration of spring water to multi-stage, complex processing of purified water products.

An initial focus on cleanliness
The treatment equipment and water processing have, of course, always been a part of the certification inspections for bottled water. Remember that bottled water is a food and since the early days of food regulation and inspections, the audits have been reactionary by nature. The inspector goes into a food processing (water bottling) plant and documents what is wrong. In this traditional “floors, walls and ceiling” audit the equipment assessment was mostly related to construction and materials, cleanliness and installation of a piece of equipment. A bottled water plant audit may point out the fact that the reverse osmosis system is installed directly on the floor and against the wall so it is difficult to clean the area around it. The drains from equipment may be hard plumbed to sewer lines instead of allowing an air gap when needed. There may be lack of adequate back flow prevention. There may not be proof that a sediment filter was made of food grade materials. In the NSF bottled water certification audit program and the bottled water producer trade association audit programs, this type of audit was the standard until the early 1990s when monitoring the effectiveness of the water treatment equipment was added to the criteria. This was the beginning of the process assessment – based largely on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concepts and terminology.

The advent of HAACP
HACCP is a process-driven food safety system. HACCP was initially developed by Pillsbury and NASA in the late 1950s and was officially named and had its first corporate level acceptance in the 1970s. Two decades later, HACCP had become a widely accepted international standard for food safety. In 2001, a HACCP audit format was adopted by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) for the member audits and NSF bottled water inspection program added the HACCP dynamic as well, bringing HACCP to the major North American bottled water producers well ahead of any regulatory requirement to do so (see timeline).

The HACCP system uses a team from each manufacturing facility to identify real and specific hazards. The most effective HACCP team is comprised of employees from the manufacturing facility who are intimately familiar with the bottling process and can therefore identify potential hazards. Once all potential hazards are assessed, the identified hazards, coupled with a likelihood of occurrence become the heart of the HACCP system. Hazards are often similar plant to plant, but with each individual processing system, and water source comes the potential for new and varied hazards in each facility.

After identifying the hazards, the team then examines the controls in-place for those hazards. If those controls eliminate the hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level, it can become a Critical Control Point (CCP). If, by chance, there is no current control in place for the hazard, a CCP must be developed. The rest of the HACCP plan would include monitoring the CCP, corrective action plans for if and when the CCP limits are breached, documentation of all HACCP steps and the implementation of steps to periodically review the plan and verify its effectiveness.

During an audit the HACCP plan is reviewed and the documentation and design assessed by the auditor to make sure the principles of HACCP are in place. The auditor is also tasked to verify that the plan has documentation to back the effectiveness. This is a much more proactive system than the traditional “floors, walls and ceiling audit”. The focus is on preventing hazards from affecting the product rather than pointing out what is not compliant with current regulations.

The impact of HAACP on bottled water treatment equipment
How can HACCP plan affect the way the equipment is assessed during an audit? For one, if Cryptosporidium or E-coli have been identified as hazards, it is very possible that an RO unit, microfilter and/or ozonators may become a critical control point in the HACCP plan. The definition of a CCP is “a control that eliminates a hazard or reduces it to an acceptable level.” The processes provided by this equipment can certainly meet the definition of a CCP in most circumstances. If an RO unit is certified under NSF Standard 58 to be effective against Cryptosporidium and is utilized as a CCP, the RO becomes the center of the plan. It is regularly monitored for effectiveness. Gauges and flow meters will be monitored and the results documented on a daily basis. The total dissolved solids (TDS) will be measured as often as deemed necessary to assure proper functioning of the membranes. As part of the master maintenance plan, the RO unit will have regularly scheduled and documented maintenance. Pre-filter changes, membrane sanitation and other routine or special maintenance will be documented.

If during routine monitoring, it is found one day that the TDS has jumped to 100 mg/L instead of the typical 1 mg/L, the production is stopped and the corrective action plan kicks-in. Corrective action involves several dynamics. First, what happens to the product produced since the last acceptable reading? The plan has several options here, all based on evidence, known as validation. The plant may just destroy all the product produced during that time frame, or may go back in the lot to test and determine when the breach took place, destroying product produced after that time. The next step is a gap analysis. Why did it fail and how can the plant keep it from happening again? All these steps and processes will be documented.

The ozonator and other CCPs would be monitored similarly. For the ozonator routine maintenance and regular verification of the ozone residual in the product would be monitored to be sure that there is an effective residual of ozone present – again validated, or explained with scientific or historical evidence.

When it comes to safety, many certification elements tie together
The water related certification programs at NSF do overlap in many ways, especially in the bottled water program where treatment equipment, drinking water additives, plumbing and materials play an important role. With the advent of HACCP and process driven audits, the water treatments units are sometimes the “heart” and focus of a pro-active bottled water safety program.

About the author
Loren Merrick is the General Manager of the Bottled Water, Packaged Ice and Beverage Programs at NSF International. A former bottled water plant manager, and public health official, he has been with the NSF Bottled Water Program since 1992 and the General Manager since 2003. He has visited more than 300 bottled water plants around the world performing audits and auditor training for NSF. You can reach Loren at merrick@nsf.org or 800-NSF-MARK, ext 5762.

Mike McFarland of Norland Int’l Inc.

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

By Nate F. Searing

Mike McFarland, co-founder of the leading equipment manufacturer for small to mid-sized bottlers in the United States, actually got his feet wet in the industry with a point of use equipment manufacturer where he worked for 14 years before creating Norland Int’l Inc. with four investors in 1993. Like most POU manufacturers, his former employer had a dominant residential equipment business but marketed limited equipment to the bottled water industry.

“There were a few companies marketing products to the small to medium-sized bottled water operators,” McFarland says, “but the majority of equipment was sized for significantly larger operations like Sparkletts, Arrowhead or Hinkley Schmidt.”

McFarland saw a significant market potential for more advanced equipment in smaller, remote areas. “Another segment of the market that excited me was the potential of urban areas where delivery was expensive, difficult and time consuming,” he says. With a large, centralized bottling plant, drivers spent a hefty percentage of each workday driving to and from a primary delivery area; the fuel costs were starting to rise and became a major concern to the large bottled water companies.

At the time, conventional bottle washing and filling equipment was not overly sophisticated and was typically very inefficient. “Some of the equipment for washing three- and five-gallon bottles available in the early 90’s resembled commercial dishwashing equipment. It wasted a gallon or more of hot water for every bottle washed and required lots of detergent and sanitizing solution,” McFarland says.

Moreover, the majority of equipment suppliers did not supply the complete package of water treatment, purification, storage, post treatment, washing and filling equipment. Most specialized in supplying just a portion of the bottlers’ requirements and often a product from one supplier would not work with equipment from another.

With so many needs being overlooked for the small to mid-sized bottler, instead of simply improving upon products already on the market, McFarland started from scratch. The Norland business was built in the basement of his home. One-by-one, key personnel were added to perform the necessary functions within the company such as accounting, customer service, sales and marketing.

Changing the industry one bottle at a time
Today, Norland Int’l Inc., has about 60 employees at the company’s headquarters and their products are helping bottlers of all sizes find success worldwide. With quality manufacturing and a commitment to after-sale support, Norland has carved out two key niches in the bottled water industry: three to five-gallon returnable bottles and smaller, non-returnable (500ml to two liter) bottles.

“Our large bottle product line started with smaller equipment, but as our customers have grown, so has our equipment. Our first bottle washers handled 50 and 150 bottles per hour. We are now working on equipment that will wash, fill and cap up to 1200 bottles per hour.” McFarland said. “In addition, we are working on equipment for placing the large bottles into racks automatically.”

Much of their recent success has come from their new Freedom line of Blow Molders. Demand for the line, which includes 1500, 3000 and 4500 bottler-per-hour blow molders, has consistently exceeded the company’s projections.

New at Norland
By November, Norland will debut a blow molder system for producing three-, four- and five-gallon bottles. “We envision a significant market for less-expensive large bottles than those currently available,” McFarland says. “A number of customers have asked for bottles that can be sold to consumers without the expense or hassle of charging a deposit on the bottles as is the norm now for polycarbonate bottles. These types of bottles would be ideal for someone going to remote locations who wants to have access to a fairly large quantity of bottled water without buying many cases of small bottles or troubling with returning the bottles to recoup their deposit.”

In addition to producing PET bottles, Norland equipment will be able to produce bottles from PLA – a relatively new type of plastic made from corn instead of petroleum (the chief ingredient in PET bottles). “The main advantage of PLA is the remarkable benefit to the environment,” He says.
Bottles produced from PLA will normally decompose in a landfill in approximately 100 days, while PET bottles require an estimated 2000 years to decompose.

“We have been working closely with the developer of PLA and expect it to be a huge hit in the small and large bottle market,” McFarland says. “While we have not yet produced five-gallon PLA bottles, we expect to have PLA bottles produced before the end of the year. The introduction of PLA bottles will be a big step toward allaying environmental concerns about the industry’s use of water bottles that are generally not recycled,” McFarland says. “ I believe this will prove to be a huge first step. “

Combating negative press
The success of PLA bottles is a key step in combating the persistent negative stereotype that the bottled water industry has been nagged by for years, McFarland says. There has been a small but vocal group of opponents of bottled water, questioning the safety of the product and its necessity in a more environmentally sensitive world. While that press has done little to harm bottled water sales worldwide, McFarland says it is an issue that must be constantly addressed by bottlers of all sizes.

“ It is very apparent to me that most folks prefer the taste and convenience of bottled water regardless of the negative press,” he says. “It may impact a person’s view towards one brand of bottled over another, but not their feelings towards bottled water in general.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies bottled water as a food and every state has regulations over how the bottling must be completed. Virtually every bottler faces regular inspections and follows good manufacturing practices such as those established by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), McFarland says. ”Some of the stories that I’ve seen state inaccurate information such as bottled water manufacturers are not required to regularly check their product water. Anyone in this industry knows how far from the truth such statements are.”

The key, McFarland says, is to make sure that consumers know it too.

On the horizon
“We at Norland see very bright days ahead for the bottled water industry,” McFarland says. As the efficiency of production and delivery continues to improve, the prevalence of successful small to mid-sized bottlers will increase. However, there are some key roadblocks for the industry that will factor in greatly in the years to come.

Chief among them is enhanced regulation and more frequent testing requirements for the industry, McFarland says. “On the surface, more regulation may be a pain, especially for a small or medium sized bottler, but ultimately this will be good for the consumer and good for the industry.”

With more environmentally-friendly products like PLA becoming the norm, greater efficiency and a more concerted effort by the industry to promote its products in the face of negative press, the sky is the limit for the bottled water business.

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Norland Int’l Inc.
PO Box 67189
Lincoln, NE 68506 USA

Co-Founder/President: Mike McFarland
# of Employees: ~60
Phone: (402) 441-3737
Fax: (402) 441-3735
Web: http://www.norlandintl.com
Quote: The trend for bottled water will be towards water with flavors added and “functional” type waters. The market clearly continues to make new demands and promote new interests. The progressive bottlers will keep pace with these new trends.

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