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International Bottled Water Association offers ‘olive branch’ to critics
WaterWebster.org Staff Report

September 16, 2008

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The International Bottled Water Association is asking its critics to join it in working for solutions to environmental issues such as recycling, protecting watersheds and improving municipal infrastructure.


The “informal olive branch” was extended to five environmental groups in an article written by IBWA Vice President for Communications Tom Lauria. The article, titled “An Open Letter to Environmentalists,” appears in the August/September 2008 industry publication Bottled Water Reporter.


The IBWA is the trade association representing the bottled water industry.


Bottled water, once a favorite of celebrities and a swiftly growing industry, suffered major public relations set backs in the past few years as critics urged the public to abandon the bottles in favor of municipal tap water.
Issues included a low percentage of plastic water bottles returned for recycling and the need to preserve local aquifers and springs from being depleted by large water bottlers. Last spring, the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted to ban bottled water from city meetings and offices, except in cases of emergency. A number of mayors have instituted such bans, citing cost savings, environmental issues and support for their local water agencies.

According to the Sept. 15 IBWA news release, copies of Lauria’s article were sent to the presidents of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Working Group, Clean Water Action and Food and Water Watch.


“We did this both as a courtesy, but also an an informal olive branch in the hopes of exploring ways that we (IBWA) and these interest groups can work together on issues such as plastic bottle recycling, protecting and improving municipal water infrastructure, and the care and protection of watersheds,” the news release said. “The IBWA wants to cooperate with these environment groups.”

In his article, Lauria traces the history of bottled water and says “by any measure, bottled water companies are very much natural allies of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, and we ask their members to consider working with us on comprehensive, science-based and equitable environmental resource management proposals and/or assist us in promoting new and expanded recycling initiatives, such as single-stream curbside recycling programs.”

He said empty water bottles make up only one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream and stated bottled water accounts for only two-tenths of one percent of groundwater withdrawals in the United States.

In his article, Lauria said, “frankly, we don’t completely comprehend the position of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) nor the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on tap water. While these organizations unfairly misrepresent the facts about bottled water, both groups go to even greater lengths to disparage and criticize municipal water systems.”

And, he added, “the activists at Food and Water Watch (FWW) have misstated the facts on bottled water in context with the environment and they unwisely ignore the fact all waters have a demonstrable flavor.”

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