No time or place for nonchalance with water

Articles
June 22, 2009

No time or place for nonchalance with water

Remember the good old days of branded bottled waters: • When Evian, Perrier and Pellegrino brands were recognized for the minerals they contained—and their digestive benefits served as distinctive reasons to buy them. • Before two top-selling brands Aquafina and Dasani opened up about being sourced from public water supplies. • Before the environmental impact of bottles prompted deposit law initiatives in New York and elsewhere that are being hotly debated. • Before restaurants began to favor sustainability over bottled water sales. If the public mood has turned further against bottled water in this recession, it is largely because people are looking to save everywhere—and that means tap water, home filtration systems and reusable containers can probably provide similar convenience and taste for less money. But the green issue is also a frequent and visible reminder of resource waste at a time when people abhor waste. The sentiment seems so high that some beverage producers are striving to become more responsible caretakers of the water resources they use to produce their soft drinks and beer brands, lest they be seen as hurtful to the environment. Despite America’s own economic stress, our nation is well aware of lands that are worse off. Citing figures from the sustainability network Ceres, a Reuters account says “about a third of the world’s people now live in areas of water stress. By 2025…it will be more like two-thirds.”

Remember the good old days of branded bottled waters:
•    When Evian, Perrier and Pellegrino brands were recognized for the minerals they contained—and their digestive benefits served as distinctive reasons to buy them.
•    Before two top-selling brands Aquafina and Dasani opened up about being sourced from public water supplies.
•    Before the environmental impact of bottles prompted deposit law initiatives in New York and elsewhere that are being hotly debated.
•    Before restaurants began to favor sustainability over bottled water sales.

If the public mood has turned further against bottled water in this recession, it is largely because people are looking to save everywhere—and that means tap water, home filtration systems and reusable containers can probably provide similar convenience and taste for less money.

But the green issue is also a frequent and visible reminder of resource waste at a time when people abhor waste.

The sentiment seems so high that some beverage producers are striving to become more responsible caretakers of the water resources they use to produce their soft drinks and beer brands, lest they be seen as hurtful to the environment. Despite America’s own economic stress, our nation is well aware of lands that are worse off. Citing figures from the sustainability network Ceres, a Reuters account says “about a third of the world’s people now live in areas of water stress. By 2025…it will be more like two-thirds.”

This insight makes efforts by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and brewer SABMiller (which uses 4.5 liters of water to produce a liter of beer, the Reuters report says) to calculate their “water footprints” valuable demonstrations of environmental leadership.

SupermarketGuru.com anticipates that bottled water will continue to diminish in importance (deposit laws will drive up prices and make their purchase seem even sillier to consumers), with the possible exception of mineral brands that reassert their positions. In the bigger picture, we urge food and beverage manufacturers to conserve water throughout their supply chains, practice sustainable farming, and become more efficient producers. What these companies learn could well become the platform for smarter water use worldwide in countless applications. And if it also helps to avert soaring prices and potential water catastrophes in the future, everybody will win.