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Know the Facts

Claim

We are draining water.

Facts

We are a relatively small commercial water user.
In fact, taken together, all bottled water production – not just that associated with our company– makes up just 0.011% of the total water use in the U.S1.

Bottled water has the lowest water footprint of any packaged beverage.
Bottled water uses 3 liters of water on average to produce 1 liter of bottled water – the lowest water footprint within the beverage category, which includes juice, beer and wine2.

Spring water is a renewable resource.
The water we use is naturally replenished through the water cycle. For example, in Michigan, our data shows that over the past 17 years, there has been an increase in precipitation leading to a corresponding increase in aquifer levels. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and academic research, Michigan is a “wet region”—it is predicted to get wetter in the years ahead.

We are committed to the sustainable use of water in the communities where we live and operate.
We monitor our operations each year and adjust as needed to help ensure our shared resources are protected. Selecting and managing our water sources is a thorough and meticulous process guided by a dedicated team of engineers, geologists, and hydrogeologists who rigorously monitor a variety of environmental elements, including habitat assessments, water levels, water flows, and water withdrawals.

To demonstrate a deeper level of engagement and achievement in water stewardship that is needed to help preserve and protect freshwater ecosystems, we have committed by 2025 to certify all of our sites globally under the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard. The AWS Standard is the first, comprehensive, global standard for measuring responsible water stewardship across social, cultural, environmental and economic criteria. As of December 2020, 14 of our facilities in the U.S. have been certified under the AWS Standard.

Depleting water resources would put us out of business.
Simply put: it would make absolutely NO sense to invest millions of dollars into our local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as people and as a company.

1 International Bottled Water Association (2015)

2 Quantis Environmental Life Cycle Analysis 2010

Claim

We want to turn water from a public resource into a private one.

Facts

We do not compete with municipalities for water. EVER. And we do not privatize public water supplies.
For example, in communities like Evart, Michigan, where we purchase water, we have a clause in our agreement that specifies that, before we can purchase water, the community must have enough water to meet their needs.

We help improve communities’ access to water.
Again, in Michigan, we invested $1.5 million to evaluate and help provide a new city well in Osceola County that is used solely by the community. In California, we have partnered with the Cucamonga Valley Water District in San Bernardino County to support a groundwater treatment project that is expected to restore approximately 250 million gallons of additional safe, clean drinking water each year to the local water supply.

Claim

Bottled water is unnecessary.

Facts

Bottled water is essential in times of natural disaster or other emergencies.
We work on an ongoing basis with relief partners, such as Americares, American Red Cross, Feeding America, and Gleaning for the World to help deliver water in times of natural disaster or other emergencies. We frequently supply drinking water to local municipalities and first responders when tap water may be unavailable. In 2020, we donated approximately 11.5 million bottles of water to communities in need.

Americans’ growing preference for bottled water over high-calorie beverages has cut billions of calories out of the American diet.
Bottled water cannot, and will not, replace tap water – and we never expect it to. Bottled water does, however, play an important role in helping Americans stay hydrated at a time when more and more beverages are consumed away from home. Americans have a growing preference for water – mineral, sparkling, flavored and still. In 2017, the sales of individual-sized bottled water surpassed sales of carbonated soft drinks for the first time ever3 and we expect this trend to continue.

That’s great news for the health of our country as billions of calories are being taken out of the American diet.

3Beverage Marketing Corporation (2017)

Claim

We are encouraging a wasteful, throw-away culture by producing plastic bottles.

Facts

Bottled water containers make up less than 1% of municipal waste.4;
But we all need to do more to make sure ALL plastic containers are recycled – from detergent containers to peanut butter jars to beverage bottles.

We’re investing in recycling infrastructure projects and community recycling programs across the U.S.
Unfortunately, less than 30% of plastic bottles are currently recycled5 and only 9% of all plastic is recycled in the U.S6. We support recycling infrastructure through investments and partnerships with organizations like the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund and The Recycling Partnership to help increase recycling capabilities and improve access across the U.S.

In fact, we have invested $6 million in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, that finances recycling infrastructure projects and community recycling programs across the U.S. The Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund has invested in projects that have contributed $13.5M of economic benefit to municipalities, helped keep 1.5 million tons of materials out of landfills and avoided 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

We are committed to using more sustainable packaging.
We pioneered the lightweight bottle and we have continued to reduce the material used in our packaging. Since 1990, we have reduced the plastic content of our half-liter bottles by more than 60%. Light weighting – reducing the amount of plastic resin – saves energy and reduces our carbon footprint. We have also started to eliminate the cardboard used on the bottom of our case packs and eliminated the pull tab from our sport bottles and made our bottle labels 35% smaller.

We design all of our bottles to be 100% recyclable.
Our current beverage portfolio contains plastic, recycled plastic, aluminum and glass, in varying sizes that serve different purposes and functionalities. The bottles made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and recycled PET (rPET), were never meant to be thrown away. They were designed to be captured, recycled, and reused again and again.

We’re leading the industry in our use of recycled plastic.
In December 2020, we reached 20% recycled PET plastic (rPET) use across our U.S. still water portfolio, getting us closer to our goal of using 25% rPET by 2021 and 50% rPET by 2025. In July, we announced that three of our regional spring water brands have started to offer bottles made of 100% recycled plastic, joining Poland Spring® 100% Natural Spring Water in offering bottles made with 100% rPET. All individual-sized bottles of Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water and Pure Life® Purified Water produced in California have been made with 50% recycled plastic since 2017. Now, five of our six regional spring water brands offer bottles made with recycled plastic, and four of these offer bottles made with 100% rPET. We are also proud that we have three of the only major, nationally distributed bottled water offerings on the market made using 100% rPET – Pure Life® 700mL, Poland Spring® ORIGIN, and Pure Life® “DC Collection.”

By using recycled plastic, we are breathing new life into existing materials, reducing the need for new plastic and generating a 60% smaller carbon footprint compared to using new plastic.7

We aim to inspire consumers to recycle more. 
We were the first beverage company to add How2Recycle® information on our labels. These labels, added to all of our major U.S. brands, include a reminder for consumers to empty the bottle and replace the cap before recycling.

In 2019, we started to include the How2Recycle label on the plastic overwrap used for our cases. The label instructs consumers to ensure the wrap is clean and dry, and then dropped off at a location participating in the Wrap Recycling Action Program, a national public awareness and outreach initiative designed to make plastic film a commonly recycled material.

We also educate consumers about the impact they can make by recycling, while preventing valuable PET plastic materials from being discarded. In August 2019, we launched the #NotTrash Instagram recycling hotline with The Recycling Partnership to inspire more Americans to recycle more, better, and help improve curbside access to recycling.

We’re always exploring innovative packaging.
We have been determined to explore multiple ways to help solve the plastic waste challenge and we are embracing multiple solutions that can have an impact now. In September 2020, we announced a collaboration with the University of Maine to identify and assess sustainable packaging alternatives from materials derived from responsibly harvested Maine wood. And in December 2020, we announced an investment in a startup that is researching new technology solutions for one of the critical aspects of the global plastic waste challenge—plastic that is not properly recycled and ends up in landfills, oceans, and waterways.

We’re also thinking beyond the bottle.
In addition to exploring innovative packaging solutions, we are trying to find new technologies and delivery systems that will help us achieve zero environmental impact. Currently, our ReadyRefresh 3- and 5-gallon containers, made from plastic #1 (PET), are returned, washed and refilled approximately 25-30 times before they are recycled. Our Hydration Stations travel to local community festivals, primarily in Maine, Michigan and Florida, to dispense free water refills for attendees.

We support legislation that aims to achieve a waste-free future.
Laws and regulations play an important role in achieving a circular economy and we support public policy solutions that increase the collection, processing, and re-use of all beverage containers. This includes supporting funding for necessary investments in deposit and curbside collection programs, as well as investments to improve the quality of recycled material processed through these programs.

We strongly support the increased use of recycled content and have demonstrated unparalleled industry leadership in its use. We also advocate for policies that stimulate infrastructure investment and long-term supply contracting to enhance and bring supply and price stability to recycled content markets. We recently supported the passage of California Assembly Bill 792, which will require beverage manufacturers to use 10% recycled plastic in their containers sold in California starting on January 1, 2021 and will increase that requirement over time to 50% by January 1, 2030.

4 Environmental Protection Agency (2015)
5 The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) 2019 PET Recycling Report
6 Environmental Protection Agency (2018)
7The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) Life Cycle Analysis 2018

Claim

Now that China is no longer accepting our plastic recyclables, it’s better to landfill plastic than to recycle in the U.S.

Facts

Recycled plastic beverage containers are a valuable commodity and have long had a vibrant market in the U.S.
Our plastic bottles should not be thrown away, they should be recycled. The U.S. recycling programs have capacity and demand for the recycled material. As more and more products incorporate recycled content, the demand for this material will continue to increase, ensuring a strong market well into the future.

China’s National Sword policy, enacted in 2018, bans many scrap and other materials unless they meet an extremely strict contamination rate of 0.5%. This includes materials such as low grade plastics and unsorted mixed paper, which do not have strong end markets in the U.S.

Using recycled plastic can help keep plastic out of landfills, oceans, and waterways7.
Our bottles were designed to be recycled and reused again and again. We want those bottles back so we can make new bottles like our Pure Life or Poland Spring ORIGIN 100% recycled plastic bottles.

We realize we need to help increase recycling rates in order to increase the availability of high-quality, food-grade recycled PET plastic. In addition to investing in infrastructure and partnering with organizations that aim to increase recycling rates, we work to inspire consumers to recycle by creating bottles, like our 100% rPET bottles, which provide tangible proof that recycling can and does work.

7Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) 2018

Claim

We do not pay our fair share for water.

Facts

We pay the rate set by local regulatory bodies or the land/spring owners at all of our sites.
Those rates and what we pay for vary from site to site and who we pay depends on whether we own the sites. However, we do not receive a special rate for spring water use at any site. For example, we pay the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), which oversees the basin that stretches from New York through Pennsylvania and into Maryland, a per gallon fee for the consumptive use of water just like all commercial users. The SRBC uses that money to build and operate low flow mitigation facilities such as reservoirs. In Michigan, we pay an annual reporting fee and Water Supply Serial Number fee to the state for the sites we own.

We pay for costs associated with water.
We all pay for the cost associated with infrastructure, source development, source protection, administration, management, quality and delivery of water. That is true, whether someone is a customer of a water utility, owns their own well, or is a bottled water customer.

We make significant investments in local infrastructure – hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact – across the country. For example, in Michigan, we have made capital investments totaling more than $267 million since we began operating in the state. In addition, across the U.S., we spend millions of dollars each year caring for and monitoring our spring sources, and conserving more than 18,000 acres of natural watershed area, which helps to safeguard local ecosystems.

We also bring social and economic value to the communities where we operate.
We do this by creating high-paying jobs with good benefits, hiring local vendors, paying local taxes, donating to local charities, employee volunteerism, and sharing our experience in water resource management. We also invest in many community projects, from watershed protection to waste cleanup to emergency donations.

Claim

We are a big company and do not care about our local communities.

Facts

Our employees don’t just work with the local community, they ARE the local community.
It is easy to forget, but our company, like any company, is made up of people who care about the environment and the well-being of their local communities, just like you do. They live, work and raise their families in the same communities where we operate, and for that reason, they are just as passionate as you are about protecting their neighbors and the natural resources of the area.

We are committed to local causes and organizations and support them regularly.
We support many community organizations, locally and nationally, through donations of water, food, supplies and money. In addition, our employees volunteer where they live and work to support meaningful community projects including environmental cleanups along rivers and highways.