LETTER: PET beverage containers not detrimental to environment

People who consume bottled also drink water from taps

I read with interest the letter to the editor written by Raymond Kobes that ran online on the Abbotsford News website entitled, “With award-winning tap water, why buy bottled?

While I studiously avoid he said-she said exchanges in the opinion pages of local newspapers, Mr. Kobes makes a number of statements that are simply incorrect.

The major bottled water brands in Canada have never funded a marketing campaign critical of tap water. Why? Most Canadians don’t view bottled water and tap water as competing alternatives. According to independent consumer research firm Probe Research (www.probe-research.com), 91 per cent of bottled water drinkers consume both. They drink tap water at home and bottled water away from home for health and convenience. Bottled water competes with other bottled beverages. It is not an alternative to tap water.

Plastic beverage containers are manufactured from PET and are not detrimental to the environment, especially when recycled. According to beverage industry steward Encorp Pacific (www.return-it.ca), the recovery rate for plastic beverage containers was about 80 per cent in British Columbia last year. The beverage industry is working with government and consumers to improve these recycling rates. For example, Encorp Pacific is working with local municipalities to fund public spaces recycling programs.

According to a 2008 CIAL Group (www.cialgroup.com) study, the carbon footprint of a re-usable bottle is almost five times that of single-use bottled water. The study also found that washing re-usable containers uses significant amounts of energy. The amount of hot water used each time the re-usable water bottle is cleaned may have a carbon footprint more than 100 per cent (hand washing under running hot water) of the carbon footprint of single-use bottled water. A re-usable bottle would have to be used an average of 80 times before it would have a carbon footprint lower than that of a single-use plastic beverage container — if ever.

John B. Challinor II

Director of Corporate Affairs

Nestlé Waters Canada

Guelph, Ontario