Bottled Water Manufacturers Face Uncertain Future

by | Oct 8, 2007

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The bottled water backlash is costing beverage makers money, AdAge reports. Beverage Digest reports that retail sales of bottled water (excluding vending machines and Wal-Mart) grew only nine percent this year compared with 16 percent in 2006.
Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, said the bottled-water industry has been unfairly targeted. He claims that bottled water is America’s No. 2 beverage (after soda) but accounts for only a third of one percent of the nation’s waste. “We strongly think any efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must focus on all consumer goods and not just target one industry, like bottled water,” he said.

This was also the gist of September opinion piece written by Kim Jeffery, president and CEO of Nestle Waters North America. Nestle controls nearly $4 billion of the $5 billion grocery market for single-serving bottles.
Get used to hearing it. The IBWA launched a PR and advertising campaign in newspapers such as The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle recently (see ad) to, as the association says, “bring balanced, positive and factual bottled-water information to consumers and community leaders.”

Manufacturers like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle Waters are taking other steps to improve their images. Manufacturers are reducing the materials required for their bottles, which is known as light-weighting.
Earlier this month, Coca-Cola pledged $60 million to build recycling plants in order to make new bottles out of recycled ones.

San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom recently issued an executive order prohibiting city departments from buying bottled water. Chicago is talking about a bottled water tax.

Meanwhile, Nalgene and Brita are looking to cash in on the backlash  against bottled water with a a co-branded campaign encouraging consumers to filter tap water at home.

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