WQP: What scientific or technological advances have benefited the bottled water industry recently?
Joseph Doss: Advances in process control and treatment over the past several years have improved the ability of bottled water companies to continue to provide the public with a safe and secure packaged food product. These advances are nonchemical and enable the industry to continue to provide the public with a good-tasting natural product. Filtration advances, for example, have increased the capability of the industry to deal with existing and emerging microbiological issues. Ultraviolet disinfection has provided an excellent choice for final disinfection. For those who use ozone as a primary disinfectant, advances in control and monitoring systems have greatly improved the industry’s ability to address the balance between controlling microbiological hazards and complying with regulatory standards of quality. Process controls, such as proportional integral derivative systems, have enabled the bottled water and other food industries to improve overall process control.
WQP: IBWA adheres to the WHO’s Codex Alimentarius for international food standards. Are there any changes you would like to see that would benefit the industry?
Doss: IBWA’s members agree to adhere to the association’s Bottled Water Code of Practice. This includes, in addition to IBWA’s own standards, all requirements of the FDA’s general food and bottled water regulations and other requirements based on Codex Alimentarius. While existing food standards are considered by the industry to be comprehensive, the bottled water industry along with the rest of the food industry supports advancements in the current Codex Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. Although Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points and food security provisions have been incorporated into the IBWA Code of Practice over the past few years and Codex has addressed some of these issues, IBWA feels it is time for Codex to adopt additional policies and regulations to help ensure the safety and security of the world’s food supply. With regard to standards in general, Codex should also work to harmonize food quality, safety and security standards among the Codex community.
WQP: You keep apprised of shifting political situations nationwide. Have there been any legislative changes affecting the industry since the 2006 elections?
Doss: The fallout from the 2006 state and federal elections are just beginning to be felt by most business organizations. On the federal level, legislation to increase the minimum wage and provide funding for wastewater treatment have already begun to receive consideration in the House of Representatives. Legislation to increase the minimum wage has passed in both chambers of Congress but the version passed by the Senate contained tax relief for small businesses to mitigate the impact of the wage increase. The House will negotiate with the Senate on the size of the tax relief to be included in the minimum wage bill that will be sent to the president.
The change in leadership in the Senate will likely result in a more active Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), has already introduced legislation directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish an MCL for perchlorate. Additional legislation that will likely be considered by the Committee includes the establishment of a Clean Water Trust Fund for water infrastructure improvements and re-authorization of the Water Resources Development Act.
On the state level, the recycling issue has gained additional momentum since the 2006 elections. Expansion of existing soft drink bottle deposit laws to include bottled water and other beverages has become a significant challenge to the bottled water industry. For example, a bottle deposit expansion was included in New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s first budget since his election last November. In addition, legislation to establish a new bottle deposit law has been introduced in Maryland by the chair of the House Health and Government Relations Committee, Delegate Peter Hammons (D-Baltimore).
Tax and groundwater management issues continue to be of great interest to the bottled water industry at the state level. The eight states in the Great Lakes basin will consider legislation to adopt the Annex 2001 Compact, which prevents water from being diverted from the basin. As part of this debate, activist organizations will likely attempt to repeal the provision in the compact that classifies water in containers of less than 5.7 gal as a consumptive use rather than a diversion.
WQP: IBWA will have a major presence at WQA Aquatech 2007. What do you have planned for attendees?
Doss: IBWA will provide an in-depth report on the federal and state legislative and regulatory issues that impact the bottled water industry as part of the educational program. This session will provide a comprehensive look at the legislative and regulatory landscape and what it means to bottlers throughout the U.S. IBWA will also be present in the exhibit hall where attendees can visit the IBWA booth and learn about membership, IBWA programs and services, and the many issues that affect the bottled water industry.