IBWA Settles Multiple Lawsuits

As we know from previous posts, the International Bottled Water Association has made multiple efforts to save face in the wake of environmentalist criticism. Two recent lawsuits, one against Eco Canteen, and one against ZeroWater, may be the organization’s most desperate attempts yet. In fact, these might even deserve a spot next to Nestle Waters as some of the most ridiculous lawsuits of all time.

IBWA has accused both companies of making “false and misleading claims” in their advertisements. These include the claim that plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals like BPA that leech into water, or that bottled water is unsafe and the act of recycling single-use bottles releases toxic substances into the environment. IBWA was victorious in its lawsuit against Eco Canteen, a distributor of reusable, stainless-steel water bottles. ZeroWater, maker of a 5-stage ion exchange water filter, has agreed to settle peacefully by retracting any and all false claims.

Perhaps the IBWA simply can’t handle all of the bad press it has received from bottled water critics – which could explain their recent back-to-back release of several online videos that advocate bottled water as a “safe and healthy alternative.” While it is certainly an alternative to less healthy sugary beverages, some might argue that the presentation of bottled water as “safe and healthy” in and of itself is just as “false and misleading” as some of the advertising claims made by the defendants in both lawsuits. A quick glance at our list of the “Top 10 Most Disturbing Things in Our Water” reveals that not all bottled water is as “safe and healthy” as  companies claim. (Pay special attention to #5 and #1 on this list, and you’ll see what we mean.)

In defense of the IBWA, it is true that the claims made by ZeroWater and Eco Canteen were indeed misleading. Though BPA and phthalates are used in the manufacture of many reusable plastic bottles, they are not contained in the single-use varieties.  Moreover, not all bottled water is unsafe or unhealthy, and it is certainly healthier than soda. Still, we can’t discount the negative environmental effects of the tons of plastic waste that go unrecycled each year – of which, single-use plastic water bottles are a part (albeit small). Nor can we ignore the ridiculous costs associated with this supposedly more convenient product. Bottled water is expensive, and in many cases is nothing more than purified tap water – a natural commodity that can easily be obtained from the kitchen sink with the use of a faucet water filter, or a reverse osmosis filter, if you’re looking for more advanced filtration. It’s not rocket science; mere common sense will persuade the average consumer that filtered tap water is a safe alternative that is both tasty and eco-friendly.

Frankly, such desperation on the part of the IBWA just makes me sad. Who’s next? Annie Leonard?

“Eco-Friendly” Bottled Water? Part One: Bioplastics

Is it possible? We write a lot about bottled water and how it’s bad for the environment, but lately bottling companies have been trying to remedy the problem while saving their brand through more eco-friendly alternatives.  We’ve compiled a list of some of the top brands.  But after much research, I still have to go with a Kleen Kanteen reusable Stainless Steel bottle.  It seems to be the most cost-efficient option, and it’s just as convenient.

The following three brands feature bottles made with plastic from natural plant materials.  Enjoy.

Prima Water

This natural corn-based bottle is made 100 percent from plants and is recyclable and completely compostable in 30 days in a commercial composting facility (minus the cap and plastic ring). The source of the water is admittedly municipal, though it goes through a seven-step purification process even after it meets FDA standards. In national taste tests, three out of four consumers preferred prima to other natural bottled spring water brands, and four out of five preferred it to tap water. The bottle’s label, made from paper, is also recyclable, but what’s interesting is that the prima logo strikingly resembles the BP logo.  The website avidly states that the bottles are not made with crude oil.  Coincidence? In light of the recent oil spill, I hope so.

BIOTA Spring Water

Similar to prima, the BIOTA bottle is corn-based, making it completely compostable in a commercial facility (though it takes more than twice as long.)  Instead of a modified BP logo, BIOTA’s label is a picture of a mountain, reflecting its claim that the water is naturally sourced from a spring. But is this claim really true? Pepsi’s Aquafina mountain logo attracts consumers in the same way, but the water is known to be municipally sourced.

re:newal Natural Spring Water

Here we have another corn and plant-based bottle housing “naturally-sourced spring water.” Again: can we trust these claims?