Give public hard facts about bottled water

Thomas Mooney

Senior vice president, sustainable growth, Fiji Water

Sir; With the bottled water industry under attack from many quarters - including the mayor of London - and a slew of stories calling on consumers to switch to tap, it's time the public got some hard facts. The UK bottled water market has grown as consumers turn away from sugary drinks. Yet bottled water still presents a huge opportunity for retailers. TNS data for 2006 showed the market at £305m - up 11% year-on-year - yet still only one quarter of the consumption level of Italy. Much of the backlash has been due to perceived environmental concerns, yet these are based on mistaken assumptions, lazy arguments and factual inaccuracies. Fiji water is never flown anywhere - it travels to the UK by ship. According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development emissions calculator, the total amount of Fiji water shipped to the UK in 2007 created less carbon than a commercial aircraft on a return flight from London to New York. Another myth is that plastic is worse for the environment than aluminium or glass. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol suggests that, litre for litre, PET bottles require 24% less energy to produce, generate 40% less solid waste, and emit 46% less carbon during shipping than glass bottles. This is why Fiji water is available only in recyclable PET bottles. The bottled water industry, in partnership with retailers, has a golden opportunity to educate consumers. Let's work together to give them the information they need to turn good intentions into good decisions.