The bottled water industry is demonstrating solid environmental leadership when it comes to water conservation and efficiency. Bottled water companies utilize and manage water resources in a responsible manner by doing the following: investing in broadly accepted science and technology to improve water quality Strengthening water conservation practices.
According to the EPA, bottled water containers account for less than 0.03% of the U.S. waste stream. Bottled water production accounts for less than 0.02% of the total groundwater withdrawn each year. The bottled water industry also uses minimal amounts of water to produce an important, healthy, and calorie-free consumer product, and does so with great efficiency.
Even though it is a minimal groundwater user and is only one of among thousands of food, beverage and commercial water users, bottled water companies actively support comprehensive groundwater management policies that are science-based, multi-jurisdictional, treat all users equitably, and provide for future needs of this important resource.
Plastic bottled water containers are the most frequently recycled PET plastic beverage container in curbside recycling programs. All bottled water containers are 100% recyclable. And, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), now at 38.6 percent, the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled in the last seven years. We also use less plastic in bottled water bottles.
The Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) also found that between 2000 and 2011, the average weight of a 16.9 ounce (half-liter) single-serve PET plastic bottled water container has dropped by nearly 48% to 9.9 grams. This has resulted in a savings of 3.3 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.
The bottled water industry recognizes that recycling rates, although increasing, need to improve and the industry is actively working to build partnerships that will help increase recycling efforts.
MYTH: Bottled water isn't as regulated as tap water.
FACT: By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be as stringent as the EPA regulations which govern tap water. To suggest in any way that bottled water is less stringently regulated than tap water is simply not true.
FDA Bottled Water Regulations
By federal law, FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the EPA regulations that govern tap water. And, in some cases, the bottled water regulations are more stringent.
Here are the facts about the regulation of bottled water:
At the federal level, bottled water must comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) (21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.) and several parts of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Section 410 of FFDCA requires that Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) bottled water regulations be as stringent and as protective of the public health as the EPAs tap water standards.
FDA has issued comprehensive bottled water Standards of Identity, which provide uniform requirements and definitions for the following bottled water classifications: drinking, artesian, groundwater, distilled, deionized, reverse osmosis, mineral, purified, sparkling, spring, and well water. (21 C.F.R. 165.110 (a))
Standards of identity are the mandatory, federally set requirements that determine what a food product must contain to be marketed under a certain name in interstate commerce.
FDA has also established bottled water Standards of Quality for more than 90 substances. (21 C.F.R. 165.110 (b)) Most FDA bottled water quality standards are the same as EPA's maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for tap water systems. The few differences are usually the results of the substance not being found in bottled water or the substance is regulated under another provision of law such as FDA's food additives program.
Regulation of bottled water is managed through the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, located in College Park, Maryland. Enforcement and inspections are coordinated through the FDA's state and regional field offices. Addionally, the health and safety departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regulate the bottled water indsutry at the state level. In fact, regualtory oversight is such an important issue that during inspection and enforcement activities, state regulatory authorities act with the full federal legal authority of the FDA.