Nov 11, 2004

Tap Water Ads Make a Splash In France

An ad campaign launched Wednesday in France aims to persuade the four million people living in and around Paris to give up bottled water and switch back to tap water.

"You're free to pay 100 times more," reads one poster in the humorous campaign by the public water authority. The posters display bottles resembling known brands that are labeled "Eau du Robinet", or tap water.

"Ideal for those living on the fifth floor without a lift," another poster reads. "What could be more environmental that no packaging at all?" asks a third.

In France, bottled water consumption has doubled in past 20 years to reach 130 liters a year per inhabitant, according to the regional water authority.

Although tap water is 100 times less expensive, consumers worry about its quality despite close checks, the authority explained.

"It's known that elderly people have a great need for calcium to fight osteoporosis. Tap water can help provide it to them completely naturally," member of parliament Andre Santini told French news agency AFP.

The water authority hopes the poster campaign will improve the image of tap water, ultimately leading to a reduction in the costs of handling the millions of plastic bottles thrown away each month.

"Twenty thousand tons of plastic a year is the equivalent of two Eiffel Towers," Santini said.

France is the second biggest consumer of bottled water behind Italy and among the leading exporters.