Nestle Waters braces for environmental battle

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bottled water, Water

Nestle Waters has this week announced a £3m (€3.9m) investment for
marketing for its local UK-based bottled brands during 2008, as it
moves to win hearts and minds against increasing environmental
criticism of the product.

Rebecca White, head of marketing for the group's UK operations, told that the investment reflected the strong performance of its local brands like Buxton. She added that while the company's increase in promotional spending for local brands market was not significant, the challenges facing marketing its operations amidst growing environmental criticism of the product were. Concerns over the perceived environmental impacts of transporting and bottling mineral water have led to increasing attacks from environmental organisations and some politicians over the last year. Even the country's government last week vowed to begin removing bottled waters from their buildings and meetings over sustainability issues. White claims that this environmental focus is out of proportion to the reality of the bottled water production, stating that the company would therefore aim to do more to push its sustainability message through promotions and marketing materials. "It seems that the facts about bottled water in the context of packaged drinks are not getting through,"​ she stated. "We are the best in class for instance when it comes to energy emissions during the production process." ​ Another additional benefit of promoting brands like Buxton, was that the product was locally produced within the UK, meaning the products carbon footprint from production to the shelf was reduced. White claimed that Nestle Waters was particularly concerned with the recent announcement by the Cabinet Office, which represents the internal workings of the UK government, to replace bottled water with the tap variety. "For the [UK] government to take that action, we are of course concerned,"​ she said. "We need to push the facts more strongly, like the fact that​ Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottled used for our products are 100 per cent recyclable."​ The suggestion to begin phasing out the use of bottled water in government buildings and replace them with tap water was announced by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell. The focus is expected to be implemented across government buildings by the summer. Accoring to the cabinet office, which represents the UK government intewrnally, tap water requires 300 times less energy than bottled water and does not creat bottled packaging waste. However a spokesperson for the Cabinet office said that the decision was made simply for government estates and did not reflect a wider environmental policy regarding the product. "It is not for government to dictate consumer choices,"​ the representative said. "However, the government does feel that people should be made aware of the implications of what they are consuming in order to make an informed choice." ​ The spokesperson added that the decision to call for dropping bottled water was in affect, a case of the government hoping to lead by example. "It's only a small step after all, and is not going to tackle climate change alone,"​ they added.

Related topics: Markets, Soft Drinks & Water, Molson Coors

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