IBWA Responds to Recent Newspaper Articles on Bottled Water

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) responded today to recent coverage about bottled water issues published in major newspapers.

IBWA applauded the USA Weekend article entitled, "Bottled Water Companies Tap into Teen Market," (August 1, 2004 – USA Today), which cited a recent study finding that teens are choosing bottled water over other beverages.

"Teens are drinking bottled water for the same reason as adults. They are looking to moderate caffeine, calories, sugar and other additives and bottled water is available everywhere," commented Stephen Kay, IBWA vice president of communications.

In response to an unrelated article published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, "An Idyll Interrupted," (August 1, 2004), IBWA submitted a letter-to-the-editor to counter a critical view about the bottled water industry and its use of ground water resources and to address a lack of balance as was provided by industry spokespersons as reporters developed the article. The full text of the IBWA letter, published on August 22, 2004 in abridged form, read as follows:

"The lopsided article ('An Idyll Interrupted') does serious injustice to the bottled water industry. Painting a negative picture of the entire bottled water industry based on the actions of, and opposition to, one local spring owner is unfair. The article did not accurately portray an industry that has continually demonstrated its commitment to responsible use and management of resources, and that practices careful environmental stewardship."

"If California residents are serious about protecting and sustaining the State’s ground water, any action must focus on all users of the resource, treat all users equitably, and must be comprehensive and based on sound science. Without such an approach, any industry-no matter how little water they use-might be unfairly targeted. For example, what an interesting headline it would be if critics one day set their sights on the paper and newsprint industry, which uses a significant volume of water to produce its finished product; far more water than is used by the bottled water industry."

"To single out the bottled water industry - from among the hundreds of industrial water users - is just plain wrong. And of those users, bottled water producers, on a national scale, account for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.019%) of the total ground water withdrawn in the United States each year. The fact is, typical bottled water companies utilize a highly efficient manufacturing process where, on average, 87 percent of ground water withdrawn is bottled and used for human consumption. No other industry can make that claim."

"What a shame that a few activists would discourage consumers from drinking bottled water. In an era in which our nation is wrestling with issues such as obesity, hypertension and other health challenges, it is imprudent for bottled water opponents to discourage people from choosing the consistent safety, quality and convenience of bottled water for hydration and refreshment. Bottled water does not add calories, caffeine, sugar or other ingredients that consumers may wish to avoid or moderate and as a packaged food product regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."

"The bottled water industry is part of the solution and partners with other beverage producers, municipalities and recycling advocacy groups to encourage and build upon the curbside recycling infrastructure. The bottled water industry is also one of the original recyclers, as we collect, properly clean, sanitize and re-use the larger water cooler bottles found in many homes and offices. When their life cycle is complete, these bottles are also collected and recycled to become part of many common consumer products."

"How unfortunate that after several communications between IBWA and the reporter covering this story, that the above facts were excluded from the article. The sad truth is that the Los Angeles Times had an opportunity to exert due diligence by accurately reporting both sides of the issue, but failed to do so."

Beverage World

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