Few industries can say they value water as much as the bottled water industry, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) said, as #WorldWaterDay2021 organizers encouraged people to speak out about how they value water. Water source conservation and protection measures are vital parts of any bottled water business strategy. Building a bottling plant is a very costly endeavor and is a business decision that is made only after extensive analysis of the water source’s sustainability and the plant’s potential environmental impact to ensure the long-term viability of water sources.
“Bottled water companies have a long-held practice of effectively and responsibly protecting and managing water sources to help ensure those resources are sustainable for future generations,” said Jill Culora, IBWA’s VP of Communications. “I think most people don’t understand the amount of research and effort water bottlers invest in to ensure the longevity of their water sources.”
The bottled water industry is an extremely small and efficient water user, accounting for less than 0.01 percent of all the water used in the United States each year. To put this small amount into perspective: The total amount of water used by bottled water companies in the United States in 2019 was 20 billion gallons (including the water used to produce our healthy hydration beverage products), which is about the same amount of tap water New York City uses in just 20 days.
Bottled water is the #1 packaged beverage in the United States, and—even with its continued growth and increased consumption—bottled water still has the smallest water and energy use footprints of any packaged beverage. On average, only 1.39 liters of water and 0.21 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water (this includes the one liter of water consumed). The overall use of water sources for bottled water products is insignificant when compared to irrigation, industrial, and public supply uses. See this water use graphic.
“Bottled water companies are good stewards of the environment and are continuously developing innovative and efficient ways to use and conserve this critical resource,” said Culora. These measures include:
- Auditing total water use at bottled water facilities
- Reducing water extraction through improved water processing and bottling processes
- Looking for leaks in all plant piping and tanks
- Planting drought-resistant vegetation at bottling facilities
- Training employees to be good stewards of the environment and encouraging water conservation
- Implementing water use restrictions at their facilities
- Using efficient cleaning methods inside plants to reduce water usage when cleaning reusable three- and five-gallon bottles for water coolers used in homes and offices
- Reducing water use when cleaning and sterilizing water pipes and storage tanks
- Managing water withdrawals in a manner that ensures the long-term viability of water sources
- Using hydro-geological evaluations on springs to assess any potential impact on local groundwater levels and stream flows
Bottled water companies are continuously dependent upon a safe, fresh supply of water. Contrary to the many false claims, they do not drain aquifers and/or surface waters, or use more water than can be replenished. The water sources used by bottled water companies must be renewable to justify the investment that bottled water manufacturers make to bring the source to market, said Culora.
Bottled water is just one of thousands of packaged beverages sold in the United States that has water as its main ingredient. Like all commercial water users, bottled water companies follow all government mandates to decrease water use when conditions require it. In addition, as good environmental stewards, many bottled water companies voluntarily cut back on their water use during droughts and other water shortages.
IBWA is dedicated to the responsible management of all water sources. IBWA supports comprehensive water resource management plans that use sound science, are comprehensive and multi-jurisdictional, and treat all users in an equitable manner, for the sustainability of this natural renewable resource today and in the future.
The bottled water industry has been a strong and vocal proponent of comprehensive water management legislation throughout the United States. The bottled water industry actively supported systems that requires permitting of large quantity water withdrawals and ensures science-based approach to evaluating potential impacts of all withdrawals. IBWA believes that any proper water management plan must focus on all users and not target any one industry in an effort to maintain a sustainable and functional plan.
For more information about bottled water, visit bottledwater.org.http://bottledwater.org