At Nestlé Waters North America, we applaud the ongoing efforts of colleges and universities striving to achieve a sustainable future for generations to come. We join these institutions in celebration of the 9th Annual Campus Sustainability Day on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
Prior to joining Nestlé Waters as sustainability director, I worked on university faculties and in senior roles at several environmental nonprofits. Now, I have the opportunity to engage with college students around the important role our products play in their everyday lives. The environmental issues surrounding packaged beverages are close to my heart, and I strongly believe the values of Nestlé Waters are consistent with the goal of improving our collective future. As a company, we encourage informed dialogue on these topics, and find it particularly important to address them today:
In today’s fast-paced society – and especially on college campuses, where students juggle an increasing number of demands – more than 70% of the beverages we drink come in a package. Given the alarming rates of obesity in the U.S., and that 21% of calories in the American diet come from sugared beverages – a number that has doubled in the past 40 years – we believe people should be drinking more water, whether it come from a bottle, the tap, or a filtration system.
Water, in all its forms, has advantages from an environmental standpoint in comparison to packaged beverages like sports drinks, soda and alcohol. Beer, for example, produces nearly three times as many carbon emissions per serving as bottled water, and requires four gallons of water for each gallon produced.
Still, we recognize our products, like all consumer packaged goods, have an impact – one we’re working every day to reduce. In 2009, we launched our next generation Eco-Shape half-liter bottle which contains an average of 25% less plastic than its 2007 predecessor. In 2010, our re-source brand moved from 25% recycled PET to 50%, and in 2011 we launched a 50% recycled PET bottle in some markets for our Deer Park brand. Our Montclair brand in Canada contains 100% recycled PET.
We know the single most effective way to continue reducing the impact associated with our products is to improve recycling rates. Today around 30% of all PET plastic beverage bottles are recycled each year in the U.S., a number that has increased significantly, but leaves much room for improvement. That’s why we’re advocating for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy that would require beverage producers to develop and fund effective recycling programs; and we’re supporting municipal recycling programs, such as the National Recycling Partnership's “model city” program, and Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup. In 2008, we set out to advance the recycling rate for PET beverage bottles in the U.S. to 60% by 2018. We believe EPR can get us there, and go much further.
The way we see it, bottled water provides a source of refreshment that is calorie-free, easily accessible, of reliable quality, and often less expensive than other packaged beverages. And, by choosing to recycle their bottles after use, students nationwide can join us to prove recycling works, and that water is a clear choice for healthy students and healthy campuses across North America.