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Bottled water was the talk of the Internet last week when Concord, MA decided to make PET water bottles public enemy No. 1. The town passed a bylaw that bans the sale of single-serving PET bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in Concord, and stores could be fined up to $50 for violating the ban.This bylaw must receive approval from the attorney general, but the news stirred emotion from both sides of the debate.

Heather Caliendo

April 30, 2012

3 Min Read
Boiling point: Bottled water – healthy beverage or public enemy No. 1?

Bottled water was the talk of the Internet last week when Concord, MA decided to make PET water bottles public enemy No. 1. The town passed a bylaw that bans the sale of single-serving PET bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in Concord, and stores could be fined up to $50 for violating the ban.

This bylaw must receive approval from the attorney general, but the news stirred emotion from both sides of the debate.

While plastic water bottles are commonly viewed as the healthy alternative over soda for consumers, concerns about landfill waste have sparked outcry and various bans across the country.

bottled-water.jpgMore than 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008. While 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%.

Ralph Vasami, executive director of the PET Resin Association (PETRA) told PlasticsToday education about recycling and reusing plastics and other packaging materials is key to reducing waste.

PET is the most recycled plastic in the U.S. and the world, he said. It can be recovered and recycled again and again, and is accepted by virtually every municipal recycling program in North America.

"We desperately need to educate consumers to place PET plastic bottles in the recycling bin, not the trash can," he said.

Recycling just one pound of PET bottles saves more than 26,000 BTUs of energy, according to the EPA Waste Reduction Model.

Vasami said he believes many Americans assume PET can only be recovered and recycled into non-food items such as carpet, clothing and engineering applications.

"PET bottles can and are being recycled to meet the same hygienic standards as virgin PET to create new PET bottles and containers," he said.

Closer look: Nestle

Let's look at how Nestle, who owns more than 60 water brands including Perrier and Pure Life, the world's best-selling label, is faring among somewhat turbulent PR times for bottled water.

Well, according to a recent article in Bloomberg, Nestle's bottled-water business has been losing market share.

The article quoted Hope Lee, an analyst at Euromonitor International in London, who said the company has been losing ground since 2006 as consumers switch to tap and filtered water and as concerns over the environmental impact of plastic packaging as deter some shoppers.

The company's market share by retail sales value fell to about 10% last year from more than 12% in 2006, the article quoted Euromonitor.

However, Nestle states it holds the No. 1 bottled water position in the U.S., and sales for Nestle Waters North America topped $4 billion in 2011.

As perhaps an "answer" to environmental concerns, Nestle recently launched its 100% natural spring water to those 068274833144.jpgliving in southern California, which the company calls "a sustainably sourced" natural spring water. The product is packaged in a bottle made of 50% recycled plastic and is recyclable.

Calling it the "the natural way to hydrate your body, nourish your mind and sustain your soul," the bottled water is available in 700mL and 1 Liter bottles in southern California supermarkets and convenience stores.

"Through Electrolytenment, resource aims to remind consumers to see the product in an enlightened and holistic way: as a healthful natural beverage sourced and packaged in a way that is mindful of the environment," the company stated.

"We are proud to offer a bottled water that is good for you and good for the environment to Southern California," said Larry Cooper, senior marketing manager for resource.

It will be interesting to see how sales are for this sustainable bottled water, and if Nestle will release it on a wide-scale basis.

What are your thoughts about Concord, MA banning bottles? Do you agree with PETRA that education about PET's recyclability is key to reducing waste? Do you recycle your plastic water bottles?

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