From bottled water bans to Hurricane Sandy relief, the International Bottled Water Assn. (IBWA) has been busy in recent months. Water Quality Products Assistant Editor Williette Nyanue spoke with Chris Hogan, vice president of communications for IBWA, for updates on how the bottled water industry is faring.
Williette Nyanue: What impacts have efforts to ban or restrict the sale of bottled water had?
Chris Hogan: Despite efforts to ban or restrict the sale or purchase of bottled water, sales and consumption of this safe, healthy and convenient product continue to grow. According the Beverage Marketing Corp., in 2011 overall consumption of bottled water grew by 4.1%, to 9.1 billion gal. Per-capita consumption increased 3.2% in 2011, with every person in America drinking an average of 29.2 gal of bottled water. Only one small town and a few college campuses have banned the sale of bottled water.
Nyanue: What steps will IBWA be taking next in response to these bans?
Hogan: We will continue to focus our efforts on educating consumers about bottled water and making sure that when bottled water is discussed, facts are front and center. In addition, we have developed new communications and messaging materials, and have refreshed our online and social media assets. We are also using videos like “Meet Norman” to help get our messages across.
We are working to reach out directly to college students and administrators, and student and community groups in our efforts to communicate the facts about bottled water.
In the case of the ban on bottled water sales in Concord, Mass., IBWA continues to work with its members, the Northeast Bottled Water Assn., Massachusetts business and industry associations, and citizens and businesses in Concord to prepare for the next steps in the fight against this unreasonable law. On Jan. 2, 2013, the group Concord Residents for Consumer Choice filed a petition to repeal the law, which will be considered at the April 2013 town hall meeting.
Nyanue: How were IBWA members involved in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts?
Hogan: IBWA member bottlers began preparing to provide substantial supplies of bottled water as Hurricane Sandy approached. Working in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); state, county and municipal emergency management agencies; and emergency relief partners, including the American Red Cross and AmeriCares, IBWA’s members supplied clean and safe drinking water to hurricane victims in New Jersey, New York and other stricken areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
For example, one company shipped more than 1,000 truckloads of bottled water to affected areas in New York and New Jersey. Another member company provided retailers and FEMA with more than 40 million bottles of water to those affected by the storm. Additionally, through AmeriCares, bottled water was distributed to the Salvation Army for Nassau County, the Food Bank for New York City and Vermont food banks to help residents affected by the storm.
Other IBWA members worked through Convoy of Hope, which deployed a rapid response team, complete with emergency relief supplies, to its Long Beach, N.Y., distribution facility. Bottled water plants from Indiana to North Carolina to Florida to Texas ramped up production to meet this critical demand. One member company also provided more than 4,000 cases of bottled water for utility, telephone and power crews working to restore service along the Northeast corridor.
Nyanue: What issues are at the forefront for the bottled water industry this year?
Hogan: One of the most the most significant federal regulatory issues for 2013 will be the ongoing implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). IBWA is currently reviewing the proposed preventive controls (hazard analysis) rule, the first of several rules to be published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the next few years.
We will continue to work on the federal and state levels to actively defend the interests of the bottled water industry. Legislative and regulatory activities at the state level remain a focus, and IBWA is engaged on several key issues, including bisphenol-a (BPA), recycling and bottle deposit laws, groundwater management, and product and extraction taxes. Legislative and regulatory activities at the federal level remain focused on bottled water quality disclosures, BPA, FSMA, FDA funding, and water cooler energy efficiency standards.
IBWA continues to reinforce the importance of water and bottled water in leading a healthy lifestyle.