NY Governor Paterson’s Order to Prevent State Executive Agencies from Purchasing Bottled Water is Not in the Public Interest

May 07, 2009

Alexandria, VA --   New York Governor David A. Paterson’s Executive Order to prohibit the expenditure of State funds for the purchase of bottled water for use at executive agency facilities shows a fundamental misunderstanding about the healthy, safe, convenient and environmentally friendly food product that is bottled water.  
 
Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is further stringently regulated in New York by the New York Department of Health.  The bottled water industry has been active in New York State since the 1820s and is a minimal user of the state’s natural resources. Furthermore, bottled water companies have a long history of solid environmental stewardship in New York, including a recent emphasis to light-weight their plastic containers.  Every bottled water container is 100 percent recyclable, and the bottled water industry is very supportive of broad-based, single-stream community recycling efforts.

The Governor’s actions are not in the public interest and could discourage State workers and consumers from drinking bottled water, which can greatly increase a person’s hydration rate during the course of a busy day, “ said Tom Lauria, Vice President of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA.) 

Lauria suggests the Governor’s office went too far in ordering a phase out of bottled water purchases by agencies under his control and did not sufficiently recognize the necessity, practicality and health benefits of the product.   “During the events surrounding 9/11, bottled water was everywhere it could possibly be in helping New York City residents and rescue workers.  Bottled water is there when you need it,” Lauria said. 

During his press conference on this action, Governor Paterson stated “Its manufacture, its transport, its chilling, everything that has to do with it is environmentally unfriendly.”

IBWA notes that transportation of bottled water is fundamentally no different than the transportation of any other food product.  Moreover, 60 percent of IBWA’s membership is made up of small businesses serving local or regional markets. According to the Environmental Protection Agendy (EPA), the production of plastic containers for bottled water makes up only 0.04 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. And PET bottled water containers make up only one-third of 1 percent of the plastic waste stream in the United States.  In addition, bottled water companies have light-weighted their plastic bottles with a 27% reduction achieved in seven years.   Several bottled water companies  are now utilizing hybrid trucks to decrease their transportation footprint.

 “And since much of our food must be refrigerated for healthy and safety reasons, we fail to see how having cold water on hand is environmentally ‘unfriendly’” , commented Lauria.

In a letter to Governor Paterson dated March 30, 2009, IBWA requested a meeting to explain the value of bottled water in an office or government setting but our request for a meeting was declined.  We would have explained to the Governor how staff time and labor in setting out water pitchers and glasses, and then cleaning them, is an overhead cost many often overlook.