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Corporate Accountability International (CAI) is holding events in a number of cities across the United States in an attempt to sway consumers and government organizations from choosing bottled water as their beverage-of-choice. The International Bottled Water Association claims that the CAI campaign is based on factual errors and subjective viewpoints. Bottled water is comprehensively regulated as a packaged food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory agencies.
In their campaign, the CAI frames the issue as a "bottled water versus tap water debate," which the IBWA views as incorrect and inappropriate. Consumers, the IBWA points out, drink both bottled water and tap water depending on the circumstances; it does not always amount to a tap water versus bottled water choice. Consumers are not uniformly replacing tap water with bottled water; they are also drinking other beverages available at the store and home. Consumers across the United States choose bottled water as an alternative to other packaged beverages when they want to avoid or moderate calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors or colors, alcohol and other ingredients, or they choose bottled water because they prefer its taste.
The bottled water industry, like many others in the food and beverage industry, is working to reduce its environmental footprint. For example, it is using lighter-weight plastics for its containers (the amount of resin needed has been reduced by almost 40% over five years) and is utilizing more fuel-efficient means of transporting the product to market. In addition, bottled water containers are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place. Despite their popularity, PET water bottles account for less than one-third of one percent of all waste produced in the US in 2005.
The IBWA urges the government to focus on improving curbside recycling rates for all consumer packaging rather than focusing on one beverage choice. The association strongly encourages container recycling and encourages officials to provide citizens with easy and efficient opportunities to help ensure that they are properly recycled.