Bottled water companies work hard to protect the environment, and play an important role in promoting recycling of plastic containers and groundwater management.
The bottled water industry is one of thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users. Bottled Water companies actively support comprehensive ground water management practices that are science-based, treat all users equitably, multi-jurisdictional, and provide for future needs of this important resource. Even though it is a small ground water user, the bottled water industry has been instrumental in encouraging states to develop comprehensive, science-based ground water management and sustainability policies and laws.
IBWA members work with legislators, regulators, civic leaders, recycling advocates, and others to support legislation and initiatives that improve curbside recycling efforts and increase recycling at parks, sporting venues, other on-the-go locations, and in the home and office.
The main environmental issues IBWA faces are:
Annual bottled water production accounts for less than 2/100 of a percent (0.02%) of the total ground water withdrawn in the United States each year. The bottled water industry uses minimal amounts of ground water to produce this important consumer product-and does so with great efficiency.
In the event of drought or other water supply challenges, bottlers can adjust their water withdrawal to mitigate adverse impacts on a water resource. However, the industry is just one small piece of the puzzle and other water users must adopt the same protective measures to help ensure adequate resources for all.
Plastic beverage bottles are among the most recycled packaged products in the U.S., and the bottled water industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint by using lighter-weight plastics for containers and increasing the fuel efficiency in the transportation of the product to market.
Bottled water containers – from individual serving size to five-gallon jugs – are fully recyclable and should be properly recycled through whatever system a local municipality has in place.
In fact, all bottled water containers–whether plastic, glass or aluminum–are recyclable, where recycling facilities exist. IBWA actively supports comprehensive curbside recycling programs and partners with other beverage and food companies, municipalities, and the recycling industry and seeks to educate consumers and reduce litter. When they are not recycled, convenience-sized water bottles do not make up a major part of the waste system, accounting for less than one-third of one percent all waste produced in the U.S. in 2005.
The larger bottles found on some home and office bottled water coolers can be sanitized and re-used dozens of times before the bottled water company removes them from the marketplace and recycles them. That is why the bottled water industry is considered one of the "original recyclers."
IBWA supports recycling of all packaging materials, including those that are used for bottled water packaging. A great resource for information on recycling is Earth911. They have reported that "more than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 27 percent".
Many bottled water companies give consumers the option to choose an ENERGY STAR bottled water cooler. ENERGY STAR is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency sponsored by the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR products are more efficient and save you money on your electric bills. For more information, please visit www.energystar.gov