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Nestlé Waters North America Statement on “Tapped”

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The documentary “Tapped” raises some good points about important water-related issues, but unfortunately stops short of recommending ways people can make an impact. At Nestlé Waters North America, we’re seeking sustainable solutions and are already addressing these issues by:

• Using water resources wisely 
• Supporting laws to protect water supplies 
• Supporting more effective recycling programs

Unfortunately, the producers of “Tapped” spent little time exploring how these solutions might be advanced. The film serves as a one-sided narrative which can be misleading to those unfamiliar with the issues and fails to account for bottled water’s important role in society. In fact, whether used as drinking water in times when public supplies are not potable or as a convenient and healthful alternative to sweetened/caloric beverages, bottled water continues to be an important and preferred choice for millions of consumers.

Specifically, here are several examples of key points “Tapped” fails to address:

Bottled Water is Actively Regulated for Quality – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as many states, regulate bottled water. In fiscal 2008 alone there were more than 450 inspections of U.S. bottled water plants by federal and state officials. By law, FDA standards for bottled water must be as protective as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards for tap water. In fact, for the two highest risk areas, bottled water regulations are more protective. Tap water is allowed to have three times more lead than bottled water. And while 5% of tap water samples are allowed to test positive for coliform bacteria contamination, no coliform is allowed in bottled water. Watch this short video to learn more about bottled water regulations.

Bottled Water and Tap Water are Different – About 60% of bottled water comes from natural spring sources – most tap water comes from surface sources such as lakes and rivers. And the 40% of bottled water that starts as tap water typically undergoes advanced filtration that most tap water systems cannot afford or practically apply to a large volume of water. In July 2009, a senior FDA official told a congressional committee the agency was not aware of any major outbreaks of illness or of serious safety concerns with bottled water in the past decade. By comparison, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are between 4 million and 33 million cases of gastrointestinal illness associated with tap water systems each year. Click here to learn more about some of the differences between tap and bottled water.

Our Bottled Water is Tested Daily and Reports are Made Public – Just like public water systems, Nestlé Waters North America makes public the results of tests by independent certified laboratories. Our bottle labels provide both a phone number and web site to get this information. In addition, we test 2,000 samples of our water each day. Gallon-for-gallon, that is nearly 68 times more often than most public water systems test. And for our natural spring water brands, we measure and monitor our spring sources for quality and long-term sustainability. To learn more about our quality tests and reports, click here.

Strong Public Water Systems are Important – We recognize water is essential to life and believe access to potable water is a basic human right. Drinkers of bottled water also want a safe and reliable infrastructure for drinking water. This is a societal issue that needs leadership by governments and development organizations, with involvement from the private sector.

BPA is Not Present in Our Single-Serve Water Bottles – BPA is not present in small size bottled water containers, typically 1.5 liter and smaller single-serve packages. These bottles are made from PET plastic, which is flexible, lightweight and recyclable. Click here to watch a video about the safety of bottled water.

We Take Environmental and Community Responsibility Seriously – Bottled water uses 0.004% of the total fresh water used in the U.S. each year – drastically less than agriculture, industry, or residential use. State and local officials control when, where and at what quantity we are permitted to use water. Nestlé Waters North America has the most plants LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council of any food and beverage company. Our Eco-Shape bottles also have the lightest environmental footprint among packaged beverages, because they contain the least amount of plastic among packaged beverage options and travel relatively short distances from source to shelf. More information on the environmental footprint of bottled water in comparison to other packaged beverages, and even reusable water bottles, is available here.

We strive to make positive contributions to the community by monitoring our water use sustainably, protecting the watershed and preserving open space around our sources where possible, providing good jobs and contributing economically as an active long-term neighbor. Watch this video to find out more about our work in local communities, and to learn more about our practices in Maine and hear the views of community leaders, watch a video available here.