U.S. National Park Service action provides park visitors better access to safe, healthy water
August 16, 2017
Alexandria, VA – Visitors to all of America’s national parks will have better access to the healthiest packaged beverage now that the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has rescinded a policy that allowed individual national parks to ban the sale of bottled water in single-serve plastic containers.
“The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) applauds this action, which recognizes the importance of making safe, healthy, convenient bottled water available to the millions of people from around the world who want to stay well-hydrated while visiting national parks,” said IBWA Vice President of Communications Jill Culora. “Consumption of water in all forms – tap, filtered, and bottled – should always be encouraged.”
As NPS stated in its press release, “The 2011 policy, which encouraged national parks to eliminate the sale of disposable water bottles, has been rescinded to expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks. The ban removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.”
“The rescinded policy was seriously flawed. It was established to reduce waste left behind by park visitors, but people coming to the parks that banned the sale of bottled water were still allowed to buy other less healthy beverages – including carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, teas, milk, beer, and wine – that are packaged in much heavier plastic, glass, cans, and cardboard containers. IBWA will continue to work with the NPS to develop effective and fair recycling programs to comprehensively address the waste issues within the national parks,” Culora said.
“IBWA applauds the numerous House and Senate members and IBWA member companies who worked tirelessly for many years to see bottled water recognized as a key component of healthy hydration in the national parks. Congress held hearings to question the policy’s efficacy and overall need, included language in bills urging the NPS to rescind the policy, as well as weighed in directly to the Administration through letters and personal calls. If not for all of these efforts, the policy would still be in place and national park visitors would be deprived of the healthiest beverage choice.”
Since 2011, approximately 23 national parks had banned the sale of bottled water pursuant to NPS Policy Memorandum 11-03, which allowed individual parks to ban the sale of bottled water in single-serve, plastic containers. In addition to preventing consumers from choosing the healthiest packaged beverage, such bans could also have unintended negative consequences. A bottled water sales ban implemented by the University of Vermont resulted in a significant increase in the consumption of sugary drinks and an increase, rather than a reduction, in the amount of plastic bottles entering the waste stream.
Research shows that 92 percent of Americans feel that bottled water should be available wherever other beverages are sold. And while 95 percent of consumers believe that bottled water is a healthier beverage choice than soft drinks, the national parks that banned the sale of bottled water continued to sell these less-healthy sugary beverages. Moreover, research also shows that when bottled water isn’t available, 63 percent of people will choose soda or another sugary drink - not tap water.
“Bottled water is now America’s No.1 packaged beverage of choice, outselling carbonated soft drinks for the first time in 2016,” said Culora. “Consumers are choosing bottled water instead of less-healthy drinks, and they are expecting it to be available wherever other packaged beverages are sold.”
Research and polling indicate people continue to make the switch from other packaged drinks to bottled water for many reasons, including:
- Bottled water is a healthy packaged drink choice.
- Bottled water tastes great and is refreshing.
- Bottled water is convenient for on-the-go lifestyles.
- Bottled water has trusted safety and quality and is comprehensively regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Bottled water packaging has a proven record of safety.
- Bottled water is sold in containers that are 100-percent recyclable.
- Bottled water has the lowest water- and energy-use ratios of all packaged beverages.
- Bottled water has a tiny water-use footprint. The entire industry uses less than 0.011 percent of all water used in the United States each year.
- Bottled water containers use much less PET plastic than soft drinks containers (9.25 grams vs. 23.9 grams, on average for 16.9-ounce containers). Soda needs a thicker plastic container due to its carbonation.
For more information about bottled water, visit www.bottledwater.org.
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The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international water bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.
In addition to FDA regulations, IBWA member water bottlers must adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is a mandatory annual plant inspection by an independent, third-party organization.
IBWA is proud to be a supporter of Drink Up, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which encourages Americans to drink more water more often – whether from the tap, a filter, or in a bottle. Choosing water is always the healthy choice.