The bottled water industry has recently come under attack by critics who say they are concerned about the quantity of water bottles going to our landfills and the energy used transporting them to market. But, Kim Jeffery, president and CEO of Nestle Waters North America Inc., said those who propose bans on bottled water don’t acknowledge that bottled water represents less than 1% of the municipal solid waste that ends up in landfills. Bottled water is only one beverage among hundreds that come in plastic containers.
“Nor do critics acknowledge bottled water as a healthy choice,” Jeffery said.
CSD: What impact is bottled water having on U.S. consumers?
KJ: The percentage of children who are overweight or obese in the U.S. is up 370% in the last generation. The average person in the U.S. gets 458 calories per day from beverages. That’s an increase of 225 calories per day in the past 10 years, adding a whopping 82,000 calories per year to our diets. Drinking more water, whether bottled or tap, represents a significant opportunity to reduce the problems of obesity and the health concerns that come with it.
CSD: While bottled water may be getting a bad rap in other areas, how is Nestle Waters helping spread the message that water is an outstanding addition to everyday diets?
KJ: The critics do not recognize that tap water is not always available–especially when there are natural disasters, such as the recent fires in California, and floods in Texas, Illinois, Ohio and other parts of the Midwest.
CSD: Nestle Waters has a long history in the U.S. How has the bottled water business has evolved over that time?
KJ: With the introduction of the half-liter bottle in 1989, consumers were able for the first time to get a healthy, convenient alternative to the sugared beverages that had dominated the packaged beverage market for years.
Americans want the beverages we consume to be convenient. That explains why 70% of the beverages we drink in the U.S. come in bottles or cans. We believe that if you drink a beverage from a container, bottled water is the best choice you can make.
CSD: Recycling has become an issue with many consumers. What is Nestle Waters doing to address this issue?
KJ: Nestle Waters North America is taking responsibility for finding real solutions. We advocate for recycling programs, which will capture and recycle most food, beverage, household, and other recyclable containers used frequently in the home. Right now, curbside recycling is only available for about 50% of the households in America. More research into creative package design and more robust recycling initiatives at the local and state level will help. Banning a healthy beverage like bottled water will not.