Dear Member of Congress:
As I am sure you are aware, bottled water’s place in our society has become a topic of great interest — and even sometimes heated debate. As an outgrowth of this dialogue, some interest groups have advocated an end to bottled water products at state and municipal buildings and here on Capitol Hill, as if the mere act of turning from bottled water would solve the challenges they seek to address. I hope to take a moment of your time to provide some much needed information around the issue from a viewpoint that you may not yet have heard.
My company puts water in a bottle and sells it side-by-side with all sorts of packaged drinks. Seventy percent of U.S. households choose bottled water for refreshment, and the vast majority of those households also drink tap water. And we are proud to serve Deer Park® brand water in many of the offices on Capitol Hill. Yet some groups continue to manufacture a false choice between the ways that Americans drink water—an attempt that will be renewed tomorrow.
One week ago, the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines said that Americans should drink more water. We agree. Water—whether tap, filtered, or in a bottle—is a smart thing to drink. Turning away from bottled water does not improve water conservation practices, does not ensure adequate funding for public drinking water systems, and does not increase recycling rates. Instead, bans remove one of the most healthful beverage choices.
Many of the claims being made against bottled water simply fail to provide a complete picture of bottled water’s real environmental impact and its importance as a contributor to a healthy lifestyle.
That is why Nestlé Waters North America commissioned a life cycle analysis (LCA) on all beverages. This LCA—which was peer reviewed—showed that water—in all its forms—is the best beverage option for the environment, and that tap water has the best environmental impact of all. The LCA also showed that bottled water has the lightest environmental footprint of all packaged beverages.
Our LCA report also shows that if bottled water is removed as an option, 1/3 of people will find their way to tap water, but 2/3 will replace bottled water with less healthy options that use more plastic and more water to make than bottled water. (Specifics on this point are included in the attached “LCA Information Sheet” for review at your convenience, and available at www.beveragelcafootprint.com.)
Among other things, the interest groups will be asking Congress to do three things tomorrow:
- Phase out or reduce congressional spending on bottled water in both the House and the Senate
- Increase pressure on the industry to improve bottled water transparency and disclosure practices
- Bolster support for public water systems through programs and policies that boost public funding for, and investment in, water infrastructure.
While we disagree with their first recommendation, for the reasons I’ve stated and that are backed up by the LCA, we hope to work with you to help achieve the second two goals. We supported the call for greater transparency and disclosure of bottled water quality reports in the 111th Congress, and repeated the call last month. We are also an advocate for water in all its forms, and we look forward to engaging on the topic of sustainably supporting investment in public water systems.
I welcome the opportunity to have a deeper conversation with you or the appropriate member of your staff. On behalf of our 7,500 employees, thank you for your service to our nation.
Brian J. Flaherty