Friday, April 24, 2009

Greenwashing with bottled water?

Seen on the back of a Poland Spring .5 L bottle:

Smaller Labels = More Trees

We could write more on a bigger label, but saving trees is important. By keeping it short, we've saved almost 10 million lbs. of paper per year in the U. S. - that's about 30,000 trees.
Be Green.

Never mind that the product is essentially tap water in a non-biodegradable petrolium-based container that's been transported in deisel-chugging trucks across the country! What's important is that they use fewer trees!


Jane said...

Like all consumer products, bottled water has an environmental footprint. At Nestlé Waters North America, we’re working hard to find ways to reduce our impact. Smaller labels are just one of the ways we strive to use resources more efficiently.

Our Eco-Shape® half-liter bottle is the lightest bottle we’ve ever produced, weighing just 12.4 grams on average. Because it uses less plastic, it requires less energy to manufacture and transport. In fact, Eco-Shape has helped us reduce our carbon emissions by 8%.

Lightweighting is one of the best things we can do to lessen our environmental footprint. For that reason, we’ve reduced the amount of plastic in our bottles by 40% over the past 15 years, and plan to further reduce the plastic content of all our bottles by an additional 15-20% by 2010. Ultimately, we aim to produce a “next-generation” bottle made entirely from recycled or renewable materials. Our bottles are 100% recyclable, and we are working on ways to help consumers and communities double current recycling rates of plastic bottles.

I would like to point out that Poland Spring® Brand Natural Spring Water is not tap water. Poland Spring is sourced from natural springs that are selected based on their high-quality water and can be managed for long-term sustainability. We actively monitor these sources and the surrounding environment, ensuring that we do not harm the greater water supplies or eco-system. After stringent quality tests, we bottle the water in hygienically-sealed containers that protect the integrity and safety of the water.

For Nestlé Waters, sustainability is a journey, and we have more work to do. To learn more about our environmental impacts and our commitments to becoming more environmentally-conscious, please take a look at our first Corporate Citizenship reportThanks for the opportunity to add to your blog post.

Jane Lazgin
Director, Corporate Communications
Nestlé Waters North America

Jane said...

Please see the corrected link for our Corporate Citizenship report.

Jane Lazgin
Director, Corporate Communications
Nestlé Waters North America

Sharon GR said...

I appreciate the fact that your company is trying to become more environmentally responsible. However, touting the minimal reduction of paper in the face of a much larger ecological footprint is an example of "greenwashing"- defined by The Free Dictionary as "The dissemination of misleading information by an organization to conceal its abuse of the environment in order to present a positive public image." It's true that the labels are smaller, but trying to claim a major environmental impact by this action in the face of the other environmental impacts of the product is to try put a pretty face on an otherwise grim environmental picture. Good luck with that.

I specifically used the modifier "essentially" with the tap water comment because the Poland Springs isn't quite tap water, unlike several other Nestle Waters products (and other bottled water products sold with many brand names.) It's spring-based water, heavily tested, from monitored sources, micro-filtered, and disinfected using non-chlorine means, packaged into a non-biodegradable plastic bottle and trucked to stores. (Nestle Waters Corporate Citizenship Report, 2008) My tap water is spring-based water, heavily tested, from monitored sources, micro-filtered, and disinfected- but using chlorine (which can be filtered out by charcoal filters quite cheaply), dispensed by a tap into a glass or a stainless-steel water bottle I can conveniently carry with me.

Sean said...

Sharon I assume you don't consume soda, fruit drinks, milk, peanut butter, or any of the multitudes of products packaged for convenience in plastic? The real issues that are so often left out of this discussion are:

1. Recycling - if we had better recycling rates and opportunities for curbside pick-up this would essentially be a non-issue.

2. Health - 2 words: obesity and diabetes - particularly in our children. We consume significantly more calories as a result of sugary beverages which has fueled the obesity and diabetes problems in the US - Bottled Water is THE healthiest product available on store shelves - period.

Everyone, individuals and companies alike, need to be more aware of the impact on the environment. The narrow / myopic focus on bottled water as THE culprit while diminishing the legitimate and good faith efforts of the company to improve their impact on the environment, calls into question the motives and true intent of your comments I read today in the Princeton Marketplace Paper.
We frankly should thank organizations who make real and measurable strides to improve, not criticize their efforts and progress. The marketplace/ consumer will ultimately decide is it "greenwashing" or real efforts to responsibly produce their product, via their continued purchases.

Let's vilify those that are not making real impacts - 30,000 trees is 30,000 trees...

Sharon GR said...

I don't drink soda, fruit drinks, milk in plastic bottles or peanut butter from plastic (mine comes in glass jars, which I save and re-use.)I also re-use bags at the grocery store and don't bother with plastic bags in the produce section, so yes, I practice what I believe.

I didn't write anything in the Princeton Marketplace paper. I'm not paid for my commentary. I'm not a professional, nor someone who started a blogger account just to make one comment. I'm a Central Jersey blogger who believes strongly in environmental responsibility and points out obvious hypocracy when she can.

I am very careful about obesity issues in my household and with my children. I send them to school with water in steel thermoses every day. We don't drink soda, and we walk instead of drive whenever we can, so we're not facing obesity issues.

Bottled water is an extremely healthy product, 's true. So is tap water, which comes out of my faucet and was not packaged in plastic and trucked around the country.

I did not post a rant on bottled water. I did not present a myopic focus on one product as the reason for all environmental distruction. What I did was comment on the greenwashing done by a specific product and company. 30,000 trees is 30,000 trees, 's true; but the sheer environmental dammage of bottled beverage products compared to simple tap water is staggering, so to suddenly tell me to "be green" on the back of the bottle is absurd.

I stand by what I said.