Environmental groups have criticised producers of mineral waters and spring waters arguing that tap water is a much more sustainable way to quench the thirst.
Instead of sticking to that comparison, in its first sustainability report, EFBW holds the mirror up against its rivals on the beverage market and argues that it comes out favourably.
Water and energy efficiency
On the subject of energy efficiency, EFBW claims that bottled water has the lowest carbon footprint of all packaged beverages. It said the carbon footprint of a typical bottle of plain still water is 194g/litre compared to 322g/litre for soft drinks and 908g/litre for fruit drinks.
Regarding water efficiency, the trade body said it takes fewer than 2 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled. It said this is “by far the lowest water ratio of all packaged drinks.”
Reporting on progress made by bottled water manufacturers to improve the green credentials of their packaging, EFBW said great results have been achieved in relation to lightweighting.
The average weight of a 1.5 litre PET container has been reduced from 50g in 1986 to 35g in 2009. In addition, more and more European producers are integrating recycled plastic into new bottles.
Finally, EFBW said bottled water companies have played an important role in the environmental protection of the areas where they extract water.
In its sustainability report, the organisation noted various schemes and partnerships set up between industry and local farmers and communities to preserve water, remove pesticides and improve farming techniques.
Examples include the independent agriculture advisory body Agrivair set up by Nestle in 1992. It works with farmers around water catchment areas in France to help farmers stop using of pesticides, reduce nitrates and promote crop rotation.
Based in Brussels EFBW is the European trade association representing 26 national bottled trade associations and by extension over 500 natural mineral and spring water producers in Europe.