Moving Beyond Bottles

Internationally, consumers are becoming increasingly informed of the threats bottled water poses to their environment, pocketbook and even their health. In 2008, Americans drank 100 million less gal of bottled water than in 2007, marking the first decline of this decade. Municipalities are taxing bottled water, communities are battling water privatization and non-governmental organization publications are highlighting instances of bottled water impurity.

The National Resources Defense Council conducted a four-year study of 103 brands of bottled water, finding that about one in every three bottles tested contained levels of contamination—including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria and arsenic. Additionally, environmentalists are reacting with demonstrations, campaigns and documentaries against the waste generated from bottled water production. Not only do 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter every year, it also requires three times as much water to make the bottle as it does to fill it.

Against the backdrop of an informed population, the conscious consumer seeks alternatives to bottled water. While some turn to tap water, this is not a viable option in certain polluted areas. Most popular for the home are small point-of-use filtration systems that attach to a faucet and eliminate the need to buy and store packs of bottled water. Recently, these systems have become more sophisticated, less expensive and have transformed into larger, more powerful units.

For example, Blue Reserve’s stainless steel BR100 and BR200 bottle-less water coolers combine top-of-the-line water purification technology with the aesthetics of a water cooler. This standalone point-of-use water cooler eliminates the bottle as well as the associated inefficiencies of water delivery.

How the System Works

A Blue Reserve bottle-less water cooler connects to the nearest water line in a building, similarly to hooking up a refrigerator or coffee brewer. The water then passes through a multi-stage purification system before traveling into a 1-gal stainless steel container sealed inside the bottleless cooler. An endless supply of purified water, chilled or hot, is then dispensed through child-proof faucets.

Each bottle-less cooler is equipped with absolute micron filtration technology, which purifies water in three stages. In the first stage, water passes through a filter 20 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, removing bacteria and sediment. The second stage removes lead and all harmful chemicals (chlorine, lead and pesticides) by pressure-forcing the water through a filter 100 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. A final carbon-activated filter enhances the flavor of the water by removing bad taste and odor. Reverse osmosis systems are also offered to those who prefer the taste of distilled water and want all minerals removed.

The Benefits of Bottle-Less

Without paying for bottled water delivery, companies are able to save money. “Most clients realize over a 50% cost reduction,” said Brandon Pollock from Blue Reserve. “It is quite a large incentive.”

Drinking from a bottle-less water cooler is also safer. When water is being purified in a closed system and held in a stainless steel basin, there is no longer a risk of BPA leaching or contamination from airborne pathogens.

A bottle-less water cooler is also eco-friendly. Not only is it built to be energy efficient, but it also eliminates the manufacturing, bottling, storage and delivery of 5-gal bottles. Last year alone, the production of bottled water required the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil, enough fuel to run 1 million U.S. cars for a year, and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Finally, bottle-less water coolers are a user-friendly product. With an unlimited supply of purified water, there is no longer a need to lift and store 42-lb water jugs.

Beyond Bottles

The alternatives to bottled water exist and are beginning to impact the water industry. In the U.S., Zenith Intl. reported the number of bottle-less water coolers to have risen 16% between 2008 and 2009. Valued at $201 million in 2008, the bottle-less cooler market is forecast to double in value by 2011, driven by consumer preferences, challenging economic conditions and the debate over water availability.

Nick Friedman is director of operations for Blue Reserve. Friedman can be reached at 207.619.4422 or by e-mail at n.friedman@bluereserve.com.

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