Water Works

I recently read an article about consumer backlash against plastic water bottles and a trend toward using <gasp> TAP WATER!

Just five years ago, carrying around a bottle of Evian was not only refreshing, it was a status symbol. Now with a slower economy, combined with increased awareness about environmental impact, people are finally starting to see that plastic bottles of water aren’t as cool as they once thought they were.

For the first time since the 1990’s, bottled water business is slowing down. Beverage Digest reports that U.S. consumers spent $16.8 billion on bottled water in 2007. The 12% growth rate is the slowest in more than a decade. The American Water Works Association estimates that a year’s worth of tap water, for 8 glasses a day, would average about 51 cents a year, per person.

Interesting facts from the article:

  • The Tappening Project, which promotes tap water in the U.S. as clean, safe and more eco-friendly than bottled water, has also sold more than 200,000 reusable hard plastic and stainless steel bottles since last November.
  • Sigg, a Swiss company that makes reusable aluminum bottles, recently pulled some of top-selling bottles from its Web site, saying it’s temporarily unable to meet the rising demand.
  • Nestle says all its half-liter bottles now come in an “eco-shape” that contains 30 percent less plastic than the average bottle, and it has pared back other packaging. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have also cut down on the amount of plastic used in their bottles.
  • Brita tap water purification products made by Clorox Co. reported double-digit volume and sales growth in May and have seen three straight quarters of strong growth.
  • Chicago started a 5-cent tax on plastic water bottles in January. San Francisco has done away with deliveries of water jugs for office use, instead installing filters and bottle-less dispensers, and banned the purchase of single-serving bottles by city employees with municipal funds. The city has already cut its government water budget in half, to $250,000 a year, said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “It’s becoming chic to say, ‘Oh no, I don’t drink bottled water, I’ll have tap water,’ ” he said.

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