I read with interest the article written by Heidi Ulrichsen that appeared in the April 21, 2012, edition of Northern Life, entitled “Ban the bottle.”
In the piece, Ms. Ulrichsen quotes Toronto residents Anjali and Sonali Menezes, who have based their objections to bottled water on information that has long been confirmed as false — mythology one typically finds on anti-bottled water activists’ websites.
While the Menezes’ commitment to environmental sustainability is commendable, they are focused on banning the sale of a product that is recommended for consumption within the Ministry of Education’s nutritional guidelines and, with an almost 70 per cent diversion rate nationally, is easily the most recycled consumer product good found in their school cafeterias.
Plastic beverage containers, including bottled water, represent less than one fifth of one per cent of the waste stream. If the bottled water industry ceased operations tomorrow, there would be no noticeable reduction in the volume of refuse going to landfill.
About 95 per cent of bottled water sold in Canada comes from springs on private property, not municipal sources (nielsen.com). The bottled water industry simply isn’t a significant factor in the global access-to-water debate: agriculture uses 70 per cent of total available fresh water, industry 20 per cent, domestic users 10 per cent and the bottled water industry well less than one per cent.
According to Environment Canada (ec.gc.ca), the Canadian bottled water industry uses 2/100th of one per cent of all annual water withdrawals in Canada. The earth’s hydro-geological cycle ensures every drop of that water is returned for re-use.
Bottled water is proving to be particularly helpful at a time when the incidence of obesity and diabetes are on a significant increase amongst young Canadians born after 2000. More than 25 per cent of Canadians consume bottled water each and every day because it is a portable, accessible and healthy choice.
They are not choosing bottled water over municipal tap water. They are choosing bottled water over other bottled beverages that do not have the same health benefits.
While we are opposed to any banning of bottled water in schools, we are not opposed to the use of filtered water filling stations or water fountains, as long as operating funds are in place to properly maintain both in accordance with local public health unit regulations.
We simply believe students and staff have the right to select and consume the beverage of their choice, particularly one featuring the health and wellness attributes of water.
The decision should not be made for them. All Canadians need to be encouraged to consume more water, whether from bottled or tap sources, to help them live more healthy lifestyles.
John B. Challinor
director of corporate affairs, Nestlé Waters Canada
Posted by Vivian Scinto