In October 2006, Joseph K. Doss, president and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), gave a report to members at IBWA’s 48th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas. Among other things, he discussed a number of state and federal regulatory issues affecting the bottled water industry. Read on for a regulatory overview of 2006 and what to expect in 2007.
Because the U.S. FDA has classified bottled water as a high security risk food product, the security vulnerability assessment for bottled water, prepared by IBWA, FDA and state health officials, was validated in January 2006 by key agencies such as Homeland Security, FDA and the FBI.
All companies must be in compliance with the record-keeping regulations, implementing the federal bioterrorism law by the end of 2006. A major issue of concern within the home and office delivery (HOD) segment was whether HOD bottlers would have to record lot numbers of bottles delivered to customers. After IBWA wrote to and met with FDA, the administration issued guidance making it clear that it will not require bottlers to record lot numbers for HOD products delivered to residences or businesses.
National uniformity for food legislation has been a top-priority issue for IBWA for many years. If this measure were enacted, the states would be preempted from passing legislation or adopting regulations that differ from federal law. In 2006, the bill was voted out of the House of Representatives by a large margin, 283 to 139, and it was the subject of a Senate hearing in July. The hearing went well, and the committee is expected to report it out for Senate floor action. There is, however, substantial opposition to this measure from state attorneys general, consumer organizations, plaintiffs’ attorneys, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and the Association of Food and Drug Officials.
Bottled Water Taxes
Six states considered excise taxes, sales taxes or severance taxes—ranging from $0.05 to more than $0.20 per container. Although IBWA, working with allies, defeated all of these proposals, many of the same tax measures are expected to be introduced again in 2007.
In 2006, nine states considered groundwater withdrawal legislation, and many of the bills specifically targeted the bottled water industry as being responsible for state groundwater resource problems. Although none of these measures passed, IBWA is preparing to fight similar legislation in the future with facts about the bottled water industry’s limited use of groundwater.
In addition, IBWA will continue to work with state legislatures to enact equitable groundwater resource management legislation. In 2006, IBWA negotiated new laws in Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont that establish a sound legal and scientific framework for groundwater withdrawals for bottled water and other users of groundwater.
Recycling issues at the state level involve bottle bills, recycled content mandates and producer pay proposals, in which a tax is levied on the manufacturer of recyclable products. Most of the bills IBWA fought in the 2006 legislative session would have expanded existing deposit laws to include bottled water. None of them passed. In addition, IBWA has joined the National Recycling Partnership to develop a new campaign to promote recycling.
In response to a few bottled water recalls, IBWA has prepared several documents and presented many educational seminars to assist companies in meeting FDA’s bromate standard of 10 ppb.
In conjunction with members of the disinfectant byproducts task force, IBWA will continue to work with the state of California to obtain some relief from the state’s Proposition 65 statute. Under that law, bottled water products with bromate levels as low as 1 ppb might be required to include a label that warns consumers about the potential harm the substance may cause.