W W W. B O T T L E D W AT E R . O R G
IN THIS ISSUE How IBWA Helps Why Critics Are Lifesaving Bottled Wrong About Water Arrive Bottled Water Where Needed
BOTTLED WATER REPORTER | NOV/DEC 2021
SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT PRACTICES THAT PREPARE YOU FOR THE FUTURE
Plastic: Why This Complicated Packaging Material Is a Favorite With Consumers A PUBLICATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL BOTTLED WATER ASSOCIATION
Where to Submit Your USTR Petition
VOL. 61 • NO. 6
COLUMNS GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
24 | How Much Do You Know About Your U.S. Government? Take this short quiz and find out. COMMUNICATIONS
26 | When the Truth Hurts What bottled water critics don't want to admit: of all beverage packaging types, plastic water bottles have the least impact on the environment. TECHNICAL UPDATE
28 | IBWA’s Emergency Management Role How lifesaving bottled water arrives where it is needed. BY THE NUMBERS
32 | The Positives of Plastic Statistics that show the popularity—and the minimal environmental impact—of plastic bottled water containers.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 10 | Supply Chain Management Practices That Prepare You for the Future The pace and severity of supply chain disturbances have accelerated during the past two years, resulting in materials supply and distribution problems for companies across the United States. Learn from logistics experts how to minimize any future impact on your bottling operations. By Christine Umbrell
17 | In Praise of Plastic Plastic—it’s a beloved packaging material with a complicated story line Confronting the plastics “issue” head-on means acknowledging its value while also noting that America has a lot of work to do on its recycling infrastructure. Discover why, despite the negative press, consumers and industry still choose plastic. By Chris Torres
CHAIRMAN'S COMMENTARY ...............................2 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE ......................................4 WATER NOTES ....................................................6 CPO QUIZ .........................................................30 ADVERTISERS ...................................................31 CALENDAR .......................................................31
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BOTTLED WATER REPORTER, Volume 61, Number 6. Published six times a year by The Goetz Printing Company, 7939 Angus Court, Springfield, VA, 22153, for the International Bottled Water Association, 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22314-2973. Tel: 703.683.5213, Fax: 703.683.4074, www.bottledwater.org. Subscription rate for members is $25 per year, which is included in the dues. U.S. and Canadian subscription rate to nonmembers is $50 per year. International subscription rate is $100 per year. Single copies are $7. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Bottled Water Reporter, 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22314-2973.
International Bottled Water Association
CHAIRMAN'S COMMENTARY IT TAKES A TEAM EFFORT
My career in the Bottled Water industry has mainly focused on the 5-gallon side. Because of that, most of the challenges our company faces tend to be operational in nature. But that’s not necessarily the same situation for IBWA members who focus on small-pack. Their products are continuously being unfairly portrayed as harmful to the environment. Of course, industry professionals know that the false claims leveled against single-serving size bottled water are untrue. And this Association works hard to set the record straight, directing our message toward consumers and legislators who might otherwise be persuaded by the inaccurate statements they hear. Undoubtedly, unfair attacks on the Bottled Water industry and our products will continue, but here are the facts: Consumers (and voters) select with their pocketbooks, and they are choosing Bottled Water. Regardless of what environmentalists would like them to do, people are buying our products for themselves and their families. The majority of the people living in the United States are using their hard-earned money to choose our products over the other packaged beverage options available to them. The latest statistics from Beverage Marketing Corporation show that more people are buying Bottled Water than ever before. The volume of Bottled Water consumed is higher than any other drink in the marketplace—and that’s what we really care about. That’s not to say it is safe for us to get complacent. As members of IBWA, we must work together to ensure customers can continue to choose what they want to buy and what they want to drink. I believe that the people who want to restrict options, tell others how to live, and how to spend their money are in a losing battle. Here’s what we need to remember: Legislators who make decisions about the policies and regulations affecting our industry often know very little about us. They tend to have no idea about how robust, regulated, wanted, needed, and quality-focused the bottled water industry is. So, it is up to us to educate them. To do that, we need local boots on the ground helping IBWA with our grassroots efforts. I can tell you for a fact that the Representatives in your state capital and Washington, DC, would much rather hear from a person who lives and conducts business in their district than from an industry representative. In 2022, IBWA will need your active participation to help us share Bottled Water's good news story with consumers, legislators, the media, and other interested third parties. Please join me.
CR Hall IBWA Chairman 2 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
OFFICERS Chairman CR Hall, Hall's Culligan Vice Chairman Henry R. Hidell, III, Hidell International Treasurer Brian Hess, Niagara Bottling LLC Immediate Past Chairman Robert Smith, Grand Springs Distribution
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Shayron Barnes-Selby, Primo Water North America Joe Bell, Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc. Philippe Caradec, Danone Waters of America Doug Hidding, Blackhawk Molding Co. Dan Kelly, Polymer Solutions International Hih Song Kim, BlueTriton Brands Jillian Olsen, Cherry Ridge Consulting LLC David Redick, Steelhead, Inc. Lynn Wachtmann, Maumee Valley Bottlers, Inc. Brad Wester, Premium Waters, Inc. William Patrick Young, Absopure Water Co., Inc.
IBWA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chairman CR Hall, Hall's Culligan Joe Bell, Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc. Philippe Caradec, Danone Waters of America Brian Hess, Niagara Bottling LLC Henry R. Hidell, III, Hidell International Dan Kelly, Polymer Solutions International Hih Song Kim, BlueTriton Brands Robert Smith, Grand Springs Distribution William Patrick Young, Absopure Water Co., Inc. Lynn Wachtmann, Maumee Valley Bottlers, Inc.
COMMITTEE CHAIRS Communications Committee Julia Buchanan, Niagara Bottling, LLC Maureen Hendrix, Primo Water North America Education Committee Glen Davis, Absopure Water Co., Inc. Douglas R. Hupe, Aqua Filter Fresh Environmental Sustainability Committee John Cook, Niagara Bottling LLC Jillian Olsen, Cherry Ridge Consulting LLC Government Relations Committee Viola Johnson Jacobs, Primo Water North America Derieth Sutton, Niagara Bottling LLC. Membership Committee Marge Eggie, Polymer Solutions International Kelley Goshay, Primo Water North America State and Regional Associations Committee Robert Smith, Grand Springs Distribution Supplier and Convention Committee Joe Bell, Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc. Dan Kelly, Polymer Solutions International Technical Committee Glen Davis, Absopure Water Co., Inc. Ryan Schwaner, Niagara Bottling, LLC
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE A PRODUCTIVE END
In times of crisis, it’s always a good idea to look at the positive outcomes and lessons learned. In this issue of Bottled Water Reporter (BWR), we focus on the innovative practices that are being triggered by current events and how they are transforming our industry. Supply chain issues are top of mind for everyone right now. That’s why in our cover story, “Supply Chain Management Practices That Prepare You for the Future” (p.10), we ask logistics experts how bottled water companies can learn from the current supply chain disturbances. They suggest finding ways to foster supply chain resilience, such as source mapping your suppliers and finding multiple sources for raw materials. They also recommend focusing on things you can control (e.g., inventory, supplier relationships, and contract negotiations) over things that you can’t (e.g., the weather, a pandemic, and nation-wide labor shortages). While the decreased production of plastic is a current concern for our industry, we also have to contend with bottled water critics ramping up their attack on our containers. Our second feature, “In Praise of Plastic” (p.17), confronts the complicated story line of this valuable resource head-on. The masses need to be reminded why plastic is the preferred packaging material of consumers and industry alike. Plastic is lightweight, transparent, durable, shatterproof, and 100-percent recyclable. Still, America’s recycling infrastructure needs work, and consumers need to be motivated to change their behavior and recycle more. And IBWA is working with The Recycling Partnership, Keep America Beautiful, and others to help make that a reality. The plastics discussion continues in our Communications column (p.26), where we provide more information on why plastic continues to be the favorite packaging material. We also discuss why critics of bottled water need to understand that any successful recycling and waste reduction effort must be a shared responsibility between all plastic users. One thing our critics never dispute is the need for bottled water during emergencies—and this issue’s Technical Update column (p.28) reveals the steps IBWA takes to ensure lifesaving bottled water arrives where it is needed. And, as a reprieve from all the heavy issues discussed above, the Government Relations column (p.24) provides a bit of fun: a civics quiz to determine how much you know about your U.S. government. As the topics covered in this BWR foretell, the bottled water industry will tackle a lot in the coming months. Fortunately, we are armed with the many lessons we’ve learned and a tenacious and talented membership that believes in our products. Yes, bottled water is lifesaving following a disaster, but it is also an everyday hydration necessity for consumers who are health-conscious and on-the-go, ready to take on whatever 2022 brings.
Joe Doss IBWA President
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International Bottled Water Association BOTTLED WATER REPORTER is published for: International Bottled Water Association 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 650 Alexandria, VA 22314-2973. Tel: 703.683.5213 Fax: 703.683.4074 www.bottledwater.org
IBWA STAFF President Joe Doss firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Vice President of Education, Science, and Technical Relations Robert R. Hirst email@example.com Vice President of Communications Jill Culora firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President of Government Relations Cory Martin email@example.com Director of Conventions, Trade Shows, and Meetings Michele Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Government Relations J.P. Toner email@example.com Director of Science and Research Al Lear firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Communications Sabrina E. Hicks email@example.com Manager of Member Services Cheryl Bass firstname.lastname@example.org Communications Coordinator Chris Torres email@example.com Education and Technical Programs Coordinator Vacant Executive Assistant Vacant Bottled Water Reporter Layout and Design Rose McLeod firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 315.447.4385 Editor Sabrina E. Hicks email@example.com Advertising Sales Stephanie Schaefer firstname.lastname@example.org
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IBWA to Request Exclusion From Tariffs on Water Coolers Now That USTR Reopened Process The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced on October 5, 2021, that industries paying tariffs on some products imported from China, including water coolers, can request an exclusion from having to pay the tariff. The targeted process is limited to 549 exclusions that have previously been granted, which expired on December 31, 2020. USTR’s 50-day comment period opened on October 12 and will close on December 1, 2021. USTR also announced that any exclusion that is reinstated will be retroactive to October 12, 2021. That means 6 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
only tariffs paid between October 12 and the date the exclusion is granted will be eligible for reimbursement. All tariffs paid before October 12 will not be reimbursed if an exclusion is granted. A copy of the Federal Register notice with the additional details can be viewed on the USTR website: bit.ly/USTR_FR2021. USTR is asking commenters to focus on the following: • Whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries. • Any changes in the global supply chain
since September 2018 with respect to the particular product or any other relevant industry developments. • The efforts, if any, the importers or U.S. purchasers have undertaken since September 2018 to source the product from the United States or third countries. • Domestic capacity for producing the product in the United States. In addition, USTR will consider whether or not reinstating the exclusion will impact or result in severe economic harm to the commenter or other U.S.
interests. That includes the impact on small businesses, employment, manufacturing output, and critical supply chains in the United States, as well as the overall impact of the exclusions on the goal of obtaining the elimination of China’s acts, policies, and practices covered in the Section 301 investigations. IBWA will submit a petition on behalf of the entire bottled water industry; however, because USTR is requesting company-specific information, member companies are encouraged to submit petitions as well. To help ensure your petition is considered, submit written comments through the online portal (https:// comments.USTR.gov) by the 11:59 p.m. December 1 deadline.
IBWA Urges Congress to Oppose New Tax on Virgin Plastic Resin Produced in the U.S.
IBWA met with members of Congress in September to share industry concerns regarding legislation that would impose a tax on the use of virgin plastic resin produced in the United States. The Association also sent Congress a letter, explaining that the tax in the Rewarding Efforts to Decrease Unrecycled Contaminants in Ecosystems (REDUCE) Act (S. 2645) would dramatically increase costs to consumers and negatively impact the bottled water industry. IBWA members who would like a copy of this letter can contact IBWA Vice President of Government Relations Cory Martin: email@example.com. IBWA urged Congress not to include this legislation in the forthcoming Senate reconciliation bill. Unfortunately, a new tax on virgin resin would most likely be passed along to distributors and retailers, and ultimately to bottled water consumers. Imposing such a tax will disproportionately burden middleand lower-income families and those on fixed incomes, including many elderly people, who spend a much higher proportion of their income on food than wealthier families. It is estimated
that the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers pay for the bulk of federal excise taxes. In addition, taxing virgin resin won’t create more recycled resin, which is the intent of the legislation. IBWA recommended that Congress support provisions to improve the U.S. recycling infrastructure to increase recycled resin supply, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which the House of Representatives committed to vote on in September. That bill provides funding to educate consumers on the need to recycle and grants to help communities enhance recycling infrastructure. IBWA also highlighted that myriad factors impacting both virgin and recycled resin supplies are already creating a very tight market for resins, which has greatly increased the cost. In many cases, some resin producers operate under force majeure procedures, which allow companies to not fulfill a contract due to unforeseeable circumstances. That tight supply combined with millions in additional costs due to a new tax will potentially lead to a reduction of jobs in the industry.
IBWA Leads Food Industry in Opposing Plastic Tax
In addition to the Association’s letter (detailed above), IBWA, along with 10 other food industry organizations, submitted a letter to Congress on September 30 asking that the Rewarding Efforts to Decrease Unrecycled Contaminants in Ecosystems (REDUCE) Act (S. 2645), not be included in the forthcoming budget reconciliation package. Others signing the letter include the American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, Foodservice Packaging Institute, Independent Bakers Association, National Association of Chemical Distributors, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Grocers Association, National Restaurant Association, Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association, and Western Growers.
NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 7
New Hampshire Approves New Bottled Water Testing and Compliance Standards; Industry Cites Interstate Commerce Concerns
The current New Hampshire MCLs for PFAS in drinking water are 12 parts per trillion (ppt) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), 15 ppt for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), 18 ppt for perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and 11 ppt for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). The existing MCL for MTBE is 0.013 mg/L.
IBWA and Northeast Bottled Water Association (NEBWA) have expressed concerns about new regulations recently approved in New Hampshire that impose bottled water testing and compliance standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). In September, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) held a hearing to present its proposed changes. IBWA and NEBWA submitted commits opposing the proposed regulation based on the need for national uniformity regarding the regulation of products sold in interstate commerce. 8 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
The new regulation will impose a state standard that is different from the comprehensive federal bottled water regulations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Current FDA regulations protect the public health of New Hampshire citizens and permits bottled water companies to sell their products in an efficient and costeffective manner in interstate commerce. For businesses that produce products like bottled water, dissimilar state requirements would interfere with interstate commerce and a mandate on manufacturers to meet varying required state maximum contaminant levels (MCLs)
would greatly hinder their ability to do business. During legislative hearings held earlier this year, DHHS stated it would review the current drinking water standards with the intent to apply them to bottled water. Initially, the legislation and the potential regulation looked at PFAS, MTBE, and arsenic. After conversations with IBWA, DHHS decided not to include arsenic in its proposed new regulations given concerns over federal preemption. Of the three possible contaminants, arsenic is the only one that currently has an FDA standard of quality (SOQ) and an Environmental Protection Agency MCL.
New Hampshire's new regulation is different from FDA's comprehensive bottled water regulations, which IBWA cited as a concern due to the potential impact on interstate commerce. The final regulation was approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules at the request of DHHS on October 21, 2021. If IBWA members have any questions or would like to read the Association’s comments on the DHHS regulation proposal, contact IBWA Director of Government Relations J.P. Toner: jtoner@ bottledwater.org.
IBWA Requests Corrections to LA Times Article Claiming “Bottled Water Is Just Tap Water” On September 29, IBWA sent a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times requesting that a biased article erroneously claiming that bottled water is just “tap water in a bottle” be revised to include both the bottled water industry’s perspective and omitted facts—or be removed from the newspaper’s website. The article is full of false statements and includes quotes from critics of bottled water. Although the reporter contacted IBWA for industry sales data, he neither disclosed the premise of his article nor asked for the industry’s view. In our letter, IBWA points out that the article grossly misinforms LA Times readers about the vital role bottled water plays, not only as a healthy packaged beverage choice but also a safe and reliable drinking water for those who either cannot or choose not to rely on their municipal tap water for their hydration needs. Multiple times a year, IBWA contacts newspaper and magazine editors and journalists to educate them with the facts
about bottled water. IBWA points out the error of discouraging consumers from choosing bottled water; how, specifically, bottled water is not “tap water in a bottle”; how bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable (and aren’t included in Keep America Beautiful’s list of Top 20 Most Littered Items in the United States); the minimal environmental impact of bottled water containers compared to other packaged beverage containers; and the vital role bottled water plays during emergencies and as a healthy hydration source for individuals with compromised immune systems, whom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises not to consume tap water. IBWA members are encouraged to use the information found in these letters to the editor and media statements to educate their consumers, local media, and elected officials. You can find the LA Times letter—along with other IBWA responses to the media—on the Association’s website: www.bottledwater.org/correction-letters.
Winners of the 2021 Kristin Safran College Scholarship Announced
The Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF) would like to congratulate Summer Istenes and Skylee Warner on being named the 2021 recipients of its Kristin Safran College Scholarship. Summer is a biology major at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. In her free time, she volunteers at animal shelters, plays volleyball, and snowboards. She hopes to become a veterinarian. Her father is Thomas Istenes of Western Reserve Pure Water. Skylee is a speech pathology major at Louisiana Tech University, located in the city of Ruston. She grew up in Sulphur, Louisiana, where she volunteered for Awesome Association Buddy Ball, an organization started by her parents for kids with disabilities to play sports. Skylee, who is the daughter of Paul Warner of Primo Water North America, is also a Louisiana Tech cheerleader. During the judging process, the Kristin Safran College Scholarship Selection Committee, consisting of DWRF Chairman Jack West, DWRF Vice Chairman Stewart Allen, Russ Safran (Kristin’s widower), and Alexandra Safran (Kristin’s daughter), blindly reviewed applications from children or grandchildren of IBWA members (i.e., judges did not know the names of the children or parents, or the company the parents worked for when reviewing applications). DWRF created the Kristin Safran College Scholarship Fund in February 2010 in honor of former IBWA Board of Directors member Kristin Safran (ARK Specialty Services), who passed away in 2009. The scholarship was established to help high school seniors pursue their college studies.
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SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
THAT PREPARE YOU FOR THE FUTURE Learn how to minimize the impact of supply chain disturbances on your business operations By Christine Umbrell
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The pace and severity of supply chain disturbances have accelerated during the past two years, resulting in materials supply and distribution problems for companies across the nation. Beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic, and exacerbated by various weather events and delivery disruptions, U.S. industries are facing continuing challenges in accessing the materials they need to produce their products. In particular for the bottled water industry, the current shortage on plastics is a struggle that’s forecasted to last until next year. “The pandemic has been a good example of how tightly planned we have our supply chains, and how [there’s] very little tolerance for variation,” says Jarrod Goentzel, PhD, founder and director of the MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab in the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (ctl.mit.edu). “All it takes is one small event upstream to cause a lot of chaos downstream because everyone reacts differently” to disruption, which has a rippling effect on other links in the chain, explains Goentzel.
Bottled water companies are competing against not only other bottlers but also all industries that leverage plastics for their products and packaging. The current U.S. plastics shortage stems from a variety of factors. The problems began with the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns in spring and summer of 2020, which prompted inventory levels to fall, according to Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder of Resilinc (resilinc.com), a provider of supply chain mapping services and risk-monitoring data. “Within this backdrop of COVID, Hurricane Laura in the fall of 2020” disrupted the oil and oil-based chemical supply chain in Texas and Louisiana—on which the U.S. plastics supply chain relies. “Then, right when you felt we were catching up in recovery, we had the winter storm [Uri] in Texas, and eventually Hurricane Ida.” On top of COVID and weather-related issues, the plastics supply chain also has been impacted by disruptions in China, container shortages, a wood shortage that led to decreased pallet availability, a truck driver shortage, and rail cars unavailable to transport, explains Vakil. “So, the plastics supply chain has not gotten a chance to settle.”
Understanding the Plastics Shortage Companies all over the United States are dealing with the ramifications of a backlogged supply of plastics and other materials, but firms that historically placed a heightened focus on supply chain management are faring better than others. While these are unprecedented times, “there doesn’t have to be a perfect storm” for supply chain interruptions to have a major negative impact, according to Goentzel. “A lot of us don’t know enough about our supply chains, and we can’t anticipate how people will react when there’s a disruption. So, even a simple storm could become much bigger than it should because of the cascading effects,” he says. Looking specifically at the supply of PET plastics, “it’s been over a year of nonstop disruptions for the companies that produce the feedstocks that are used to make PET,” explains Tim Russell, MEng, a research engineer at the MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab and former director of 12 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
supply chain network strategy for PepsiCo. According to Russell, plastic-producing plants “have had to work harder to catch up and to make up for the downtime.” Bottled water companies are competing not only against other bottlers but also against all industries that leverage plastics for their products and packaging. “PET is one thing, but the feedstocks that Tier 1 suppliers use to make their PET—those feedstocks go into other things that lots of other people are competing for,” says Russell. “It’s not just about your PET—all of a sudden you’re fighting over the feedstocks that are used.” The supply-related disruptions are exacerbated, explains Russell, by distribution problems outside of the United States. “You end up creating feedstocks that will get sent to Mexico that will get brought back in as PET to the U.S.,” and additional PET is imported from Canada and Asia; the logistics of importing those materials are compromised at several points, according to Russell. For example, “since COVID happened, all of the supply chains bringing containerized freight from Asia into the U.S. have really been impacted.” Congestion at the ports on the West Coast is delaying the oﬄoading of containerized freight. “It’s just sitting on ships that are waiting up to three weeks or more,” says Russell, causing additional challenges to bottlers. On top of all that, the current U.S. labor shortage is impacting bottled water bottle distribution, as many warehouses are working with skeleton crews. “No one expected it would be so hard for people to come back to work as we’re coming out of COVID,” says Goentzel. “It’s diﬃcult for everyone to find labor as we’re still in the midst of this pandemic.” Those factors contribute to the rising prices of plastics and container rates. “Even after Hurricane Ida, we saw in September about 25 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf is what they call ‘shut in,’ so they’re still not doing
production of natural gas in the Gulf at the rate they were before—and that natural gas gets changed right into the feedstocks that are used to make PET for these bottles,” says Russell. “That’s caused a rise in price for natural gas, which has caused a rise in price of these raw materials, which will cause another rise in price for PET down the road.”
The Long Road Ahead Many hope that COVID-related setbacks will lessen now that the Delta variant seems under control; however, the supply chain challenges will continue. “When you have an event that affects every supply chain around the world, it takes a long time to get back to equilibrium,” explains Goentzel. “My guess is, once we get somewhat on top of the Delta or other variants of COVID, we’re still going to have a year of equilibrizing back toward ‘normal’ and a new equilibrium.” In the near-term, availability of plastic will be impacted by seasonal purchasing. “Right now, everybody is buying in preparation for the holiday season, and we’re seeing incredible disruption because all the retailers are trying to get their stores filled,” says Vakil. “In the post-holiday season, there should be a little bit of leveling off of the demand. “As we go into the new year, if the demand picture stabilizes, we might start to see a little bit of stabilization [of the plastics supply], assuming that no other significant hurricane or winter storm, or cyberthreat [such as the one that shut down the Colonial Pipeline], causes the supply chain to be disrupted,” Vakil adds. Like Goentzel, Vakil anticipates a long recovery: “The nearterm outlook is continued disruption because, even postCOVID, a lot of oil and gas companies have experienced force majeures. At least for the next year, we’re going to see some level of constraints and disruption, and companies may not get the amount [of plastic] they’re looking for.”
How to Foster Supply Chain Resilience While the supply chain will take some time to settle, bottled water companies can take several actions to limit the repercussions, according to the experts. Vakil suggests that bottled water suppliers keep more plastic materials on hand, to help cushion against future shortages. “Plastics are nonperishable, and are low-cost, so you can hold a little more inventory,” she says. Companies are learning they can’t currently operate as the lean system that once seemed appropriate, and they are taking action to boost their supply chain resilience, agrees Goentzel. Proactive planning for supply chain disruption
“As we go into the new year, if the demand picture stabilizes, we might start to see a little bit of stabilization [of the plastics supply]." can help protect bottlers, even though it comes with a cost. “Either you build so much stock that you’re not going to run out,” which most companies cannot afford to do, “or you build some ability to anticipate what could happen, and become resilient,” he says. To become more resilient, Goentzel recommends that bottled water companies answer the following questions: •
How do we better understand the supply chain?
How do we better understand the demand for the products we need in other sectors?
How do we better understand what our workforce needs to make sure they can come to work?
Goentzel also suggests that companies start running internal scenarios and exercises to plan what they would do should another storm like Uri hit in a few months. “What would that do, and how would that affect your ability to ramp up for the summer?” he asks. “Then, think about what kind of competitive advantage you would have if you set up relationships that might cost more if they go un-used, but might pay off if they are needed in case of emergency. That kind of forward-thinking planning is something you can’t do too early.” “It’s not just … getting multiple sources for key raw materials,” adds Russell. “It’s also how you think about [writing] your contracts so that you can get some guarantee of supply—there’s lots of different levers you can pull to increase that resiliency.”
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COULD INCREASING USE OF RECYCLED CONTENT HELP SOLVE SUPPLY PROBLEMS?
As virgin plastic becomes more difficult to access, some bottled water companies may consider increasing the amount of recycled PET (rPET) or recycled HDPE (rHDPE) they include in their containers. Integrating more recycled content could be a “win-win,” says Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder of Resilinc. “We need to do that from a climate standpoint, plus you get to solve some supply chain constraints.” But, she notes, the volumes needed are simply not available. Tim Russell, MEng, a research engineer at the MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab, agrees that using more recycled content would have benefits—but is difficult to do. “Recycled PET costs more than virgin plastic. And the recycling rate for plastic is just about 30 percent. So, you’re not going to be able to completely switch over, nor would you want to,” given the pricing, says Russell. But it may be beneficial to ensure at least part of your materials are recycled content. “Then, you’ve buffered yourself from the impacts of this ever-tightening supply of PET,” Russell says. He points to Winter Storm Uri as triggering a 4-cent surcharge per pound on PET. “You won’t feel those sudden shocks as much if you’ve done this ‘insurance’ of using some rPET.”
Vakil also advocates for building supply chain resilience capabilities. During the early months of the pandemic, companies that had solid monitoring and supplier mapping capabilities had a more complete picture of how the evolving crisis would affect their supply chains—which helped those companies take action before disruption hit, according to Vakil. “In the supply chain, whoever has deep pockets, the most data, and the strongest relationships with suppliers during a crisis—those are the very critical things that determine whether you’re making your numbers, or getting your allocation or not,” says Vakil. But small companies don’t necessarily need the deepest pockets if they have data and relationships in their corner. “Rather, it’s those companies—regardless of size—that have early warnings of disruptions and visibility into which sites and products will be impacted that are able to get in line first to access available inventory and capacity.” For smaller bottlers, it’s even more critical to be ahead in line and place supply orders before larger players, according to Vakil. She notes that successful companies will invest in monitoring and supplier mapping capabilities, down to the sub-tier site and part level. “That’s where transparency comes in: understanding where your suppliers are making the parts and products that you buy, so that you’re tracking ahead of time if there’s a hurricane coming, if there’s a weather issue—anything that could cause that supply chain to be disrupted—so you can slide in your purchase orders quickly,” she says. “Using data in that way, to anticipate and act, can give a smaller company the early action to combat the fact that you aren’t a dominant player in the supply chain, that you don’t have the strength of the negotiation to try and demand allocation.” Vakil suggests putting all of your data in a centralized spot in the cloud—defining “data” as information regarding where each of your raw materials originate, including specific factory sites, as well as where your suppliers get their materials. “You need to know where the factories are, and the subcontractors your suppliers are using—where your raw materials actually are made, stored, and distributed from, and what companies are touching your supply chain.” Once that information is centralized, companies should invest in a real-time monitoring system that will send alerts when incidents—such as weather events or other points of disruption—occur in specific areas, and signal which raw materials might be affected, says Vakil. “This can give you weeks, or even months, to react before it trickles down
14 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
SUPPLY CHAIN and affects your business,” she says. “It’s information arbitrage. A little bit of investment up-front in data and technology can save hundreds of millions in financial impact in the future.”
Supply Chain Management as a Business Strategy As bottled water companies write and rewrite their business plans for the coming months and years, they should recognize that more education and more professionalization of supply chain management will be of value. “It’s time for companies to view supply chain management not just as a way to keep costs down but as a strategic enabler,” says Goentzel. “There’s no organization too small to have a supply chain professional” on staff or as a consultant— someone who understands the complexities of sourcing materials and of delivering them to customers. “You can hire new people, and you can invest in your existing people by giving them more training” on this topic, suggests Russell. The MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics offers programs online that individuals can take to better understand supply chains. Interested parties can
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visit the edX section of the MIT website to explore the MIT Micro Master’s in Supply Chain Management: www. edx.org/micromasters/mitx-supply-chain-management. Other educational options exist, including master’s programs at several universities. Goentzel predicts more companies will be seeking to staff skilled supply chain professionals in the future. In addition, bottled water companies will find it helpful to “pursue conversations across industries” to understand the supply and demand of plastics, says Russell. “There’s lessons you can learn across other industries about how they’re approaching the same issues,” and he recommends that bottlers “share lessons learned.” BWR
Christine Umbrell is a freelance writer based in Herndon, Virginia. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Bio-Rad’s RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for Water Testing Receives EPA Approval to Detect E. coli and Total Coliforms in Drinking Water Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc, have announced that its RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for water testing has received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for testing drinking water for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and total coliforms. The solution includes chromogenic medium and a selective supplement that can detect these bacteria without the need for a conﬁrmation step. The Bio-Rad RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for water testing provides simultaneous enumeration of E. coli and other coliforms, delivering results in less than 24 hours. The bright color utilized in the medium offers strong contrast in helping to identify the presence of target organisms from interfering ﬂora. Standard methods to test water for E. coli and coliforms usually involves a series of complex steps, and the results often lack selectivity, which can be challenging for water testing since interfering ﬂora may be abundant, particularly in nontreated water sources such as spring water and wells. The RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for water testing offers direct and speciﬁc discrimination of E. coli from other coliforms. “Our RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for water testing reﬂects Bio-Rad’s commitment to providing innovative solutions for water safety testing,” said Jean-Francois Chauvet, Vice President and General Manager, Bio-Rad Applied Markets. “The stringent and comprehensive requirements required for EPA validation are well aligned with our goal to provide high-quality products for water testing as well as our goal to streamline workﬂows and improve efﬁciencies.” The EPA approval provides validation for use of RAPID’E.coli 2 Agar for water testing in U.S. laboratories. The method has also received the NF Validation Certiﬁcate, a certiﬁcation from the AFNOR Groupe designed to validate commercial microbial analysis kits that is recognized in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Please visit bio-rad.com/water to learn more about Bio-Rad’s solutions for water testing. .
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IN PRAISE of PLASTIC Plastic—it’s a beloved packaging material with a complicated story line By Chris Torres
From time to time, you may see a news story on social media about a town seeking to implement a sales ban on bottled water packaged in plastic or a television program giving critics airtime to suggest plastic water bottles are the source of any environmental woe. Regardless of the negative press and inaccurate portrayals of our industry, what has remained constant is the growth of bottled water packaged in plastic. But why?
79% OF BOTTLED WATER DRINKERS WHO HAVE A PACKAGING PREFERENCE PREFER IT IN PLASTIC BOTTLES. While the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected some consumer goods, bottled water sales remained strong as consumers focused on their health and choose bottled water as their go-to healthy hydration beverage. A recent Beverage Industry magazine article about bottled water’s growth during the pandemic notes that bottled water was in high demand in 2020, as consumers stockpiled goods during stay-at-home mandates. According to the article, bottled water sales grew by 4.7 percent in 2020 and has continued its growth in 2021. As of August 8, 2021, Beverage Industry notes that bottled water increased 8.8 percent in 18 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
dollar sales in U.S. grocery, drug, mass market, convenience, military, and select club and dollar retailers. Beverage Industry’s article included a quote from Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) Chairman and CEO Michael C. Bellas that sums up the situation: “If any category benefited from the pandemic, it may have been bottled water. The pandemic put an extra halo on the bottled water category, emphasizing the importance of its healthfulness” (bit.ly/BI_BW_HealthAppeal). BMC expects 2021 to mark the sixth consecutive year bottled water has reigned as America’s favorite packaged beverage (by volume).
Interestingly, consumers continue to show that plastic is their preferred packaging material, with sales of bottled water packaged in portable, single-serve polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers accounting for 70.4 percent of the market; larger bottles of water (1-2 gallons) in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) hold 8.1 percent. Results from a survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of IBWA support those statistics: 79 percent of bottled water drinkers who have a packaging preference prefer it in plastic bottles. In addition, John G. Rodwan Jr., BMC’s editorial director, notes in the annual Bottled Water Reporter article on industry statistics that Americans aren’t alone in their preference for plastic: “Plastic packaging is preferred in almost every country. Even in Germany and other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where glass has a strong presence, PET is the most dynamic and rapidly growing segment.” (For more, visit bit.ly/ BWR_2021IndustryStats.)
Consumer Choice and Public Policy Disconnect Legislators, however, continue to push for laws that could make bottled water and other goods packaged in plastic more costly for consumers. One of the more prominent pieces of legislation making its way through Congress is the Rewarding Efforts to Decrease Unrecycled Contaminants in Ecosystems (REDUCE) Act. The proposed bill would impose a tax on the use of virgin plastic resin produced in the United States. In September, IBWA sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the legislation. Across the country, municipalities also continue to propose bottled water sales bans. Los Angeles is currently discussing a potential bottled water ban on city property and events. In addition, the Los Angeles International Airport banned the sale of single-use bottled water in
July, following a similar ban implemented at San Francisco’s airport in 2019. In the northeast, 10 towns in Cape Cod have voted to ban single-use bottled water packaged in plastic, according to the Cape Cod Times (bit.ly/CapeCod ProposedBans). But legislative issues aren’t the only hurdle the bottled water industry needs to overcome to continue providing consumers with the bottled water products they want.
Material Shortages Impact Bottled Water Industry In addition to fighting unreasonable legislation, the bottled water industry, like many other industries, has been affected by a plastic shortage. Staffing issues due to COVID-19—along with natural disasters such as the 2020 hurricane season, the impact of Winter Storm Uri in Texas and Louisiana last February, and Hurricane Ida of September 2021—greatly slowed resin production at facilities located in those states and created extreme supply shortages. “Plastic costs have risen dramatically, and beverage producers can only absorb so much of the cost,” says IBWA Vice President of Government Relations Cory Martin. Those costs, he explains, will funnel down to consumers, causing them to pay more for any beverage packaged in plastic. The industry’s need for plastic packaging materials is a serious issue, as bottled water’s market share is expected to increase based on current health-conscious purchasing trends and population growth. “Bottled water is on its way to becoming the largest U.S. beverage category ever,” BMC predicts in a September 8, 2021, article published in its weekly e-newsletter, The Beverage Strategist. BMC goes on to proclaim that “bottled water is on course in 2021 to surpass [carbonated soft drinks’] 2004 zenith of 15.3 billion gallons as the record volume achievement for a category. Based on Beverage
Marketing projections, the category is expected to accomplish that this year when it approaches 15.6 billion gallons.” In the first half of 2021, retail PET water increased by nearly 6 percent to 5.6 billion gallons and by more than 9 percent in wholesale dollars, according to BMC. Still, bottled water isn’t the only industry increasing its plastics use. According to Mordor Intelligence, the PET packaging market was valued at $55.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $74.2 billion by 2026 (bit.ly/ Mordor_PETmarket). The report cites packaging moving from rigid to more flexible packaging as a reason for the growth, due to new product developments. What makes PET attractive to companies is its transparency, stability, high-pressure resistance, barrier properties, flexibility, and light weight. “Because of the outstanding material
qualities, PET-containers are virtually unbreakable,” the report notes. “This results from no fractures while filling, transporting, and use. Even with damage, no injuries can be caused by splinter parts. PET gives optimal protection to all consumers. Owing to these properties, PET packaging is advantageous over other packaging materials.” Meanwhile, the market for HDPE, which Mordor Intelligence notes was greatly impacted by the pandemic, is expected to grow more than 5 percent from 2021-2026 (bit.ly/Modor_HDPEmarket). The construction industry is one of the major end-user industries of HDPE, and piping and tubing are common applications. Another advantage plastic beverage containers still have over alternatives is that they remain the most environmentally friendly package types on the market. When it comes to weight, an average 16.9-ounce PET bottled water NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 19
WHY FOLLOW APR’S DESIGN GUIDE?
When bottled water producers design their plastic bottles, the “APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability,” published by the Association of Plastic Recyclers, can help ensure that valuable plastic is easy for material recovery facilities (MRFs) to recycle. According to APR President Steve Alexander, the bottled water container is “an iconic container,” due to its recyclability—but there’s always room for improvement. The APR guide helps packaging designers measure each aspect of a package design against industry-accepted criteria to ensure that it is truly compatible for recycling. According to APR, the “complete package” of a bottle or jug includes the following elements: • • • • • • •
resin type color size and dimensions closures and dispensers barrier layers, coatings, and additives labels, adhesives, and printing attachments
The recycling impact of each element for each plastic type is found within APR’s guide. The design guidance for PET bottles can be found at plasticsrecycling.org/pet-design-guidance. The suggested guidance for HDPE bottles can be found at plasticsrecycling.org/hdpe-design-guidance. Of all the elements, Alexander says labels can be the most challenging part of the bottle to recycle. Pressure labels discolor the processed material and renders it unrecyclable. They also sink in the float tank, where they tend to clump and discolor the recycled material. APR prefers companies use labels that are consistent with the container’s material. The Design Guide includes lists identifying available inks that are suitable to use within its design guidance table for each type of plastic. For more information about the APR Design Guide, visit plasticsrecycling.org/apr-design-guide.
20 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
is the lightest beverage container by a significant margin. According to a life cycle assessment conducted for IBWA by the packaging sustainability solutions company Trayak, a PET bottled water container weighs 8.3 grams—far lighter than the alternatives of an aluminum can (19.7 grams), beverage carton (21.8 grams), glass bottle (300.6 grams), and PET soda bottle (22.2 grams). PET bottled water containers are also significantly lower in greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use, and water use. In an effort to increase the number of bottled water containers in recycling bins, IBWA continues to support federal legislation that aims to help the recycling infrastructure and increase consumer education. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed through the U.S. Senate in August, includes funding for the RECYCLE Act and Save Our Seas 2.0 Section 302 grants, which would help educate consumers and maintain or expand recycling programs in municipalities across the country. “Policies within the infrastructure bill that improve the recycling infrastructure set an important precedent on how to tackle recycling issues,” says Martin. “Recycling is in desperate need of improvement, and grants provided in the infrastructure package will help localities increase collection and recycling rates, and thus allow the market to provide more post-consumer recycled content for reuse in packaging.”
Why Your Product Should Be Fully Recyclable In California, there is a bill moving through the state legislature that would ban companies from using the familiar “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on products unless they can prove the material is recyclable in most California communities and is used to create new products. The measure, SB 343, aims to help make sortation and recycling
The law also intends to help make recycling simpler and easier for consumers. “It’s a basic truth-in-advertising concept,” says California State Senator Ben Allen (D), in a recent in the New York Times article (bit.ly/NYT_CA_SB343). Allen is also the bill’s lead sponsor. “We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they’re going to be recycled, but actually, they’re heading straight to the landfill,” he explains.
If [bottlers] want to use recycled materials, then their bottles have to be recyclable.” APR has been working with companies to resolve any design glitches. Its “APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability” is a valuable tool that IBWA bottlers can use as guidance to produce fully recyclable packaging—from the bottle, to the cap, to the label. (Refer to sidebar on p.20 for more information.) APR is also a stakeholder on a new initiative TRP is working on to help improve the recyclability of products: the Pathway to Circularity Framework (bit.ly/TRP_ Path2Circularity). The project will help companies identify what kind of packaging can be recyclable in the long-term, in addition to fostering public trust and creating consistent recycling behaviors. A group of 35 industry leaders representing various
According to a survey by SK Group, less than 2 in 5 Americans say they are completely confident they are recycling correctly at home (bit.ly/PreferSusPack). The survey also shows that consumers are interested in buying products made from sustainable packaging. It found that 72 percent of Americans are likely to prefer products that have packaging that’s easily recycled or reusable. Because the majority of bottled water products use PET or HDPE packaging, the recyclability of bottled water products is not an issue. However, packaging design is an issue the Association of Plastic Recyclers’ President Steve Alexander says bottlers need to keep top of mind: “Beverage producers have to understand that essentially they’re the suppliers of recyclable materials.” He suggests it’s a new way for the industry to think about the afterlife of bottled water containers. “Because if [beverage producers] are not designing their products to be recyclable, they’re undermining the supply stream of material they want us to create secondary recycling from.
“BEVERAGE PRODUCERS HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT ESSENTIALLY THEY’RE THE SUPPLIERS OF RECYCLABLE MATERIALS.”
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much easier for recyclers and material recovery facilities (MRFs). “Depending on the type of material, this would benefit MRFs so that there would be less contamination or materials that don’t have end markets,” says The Recycling Partnership’s (TRP) Vice President of Corporate Engagement Sarah Kaylor.
Kaylor notes that behavior change and finding out the reasons why people aren’t taking the time to recycle is also a worthwhile task. In addition to its circularity initiative, TRP recently began a behavior change project that includes research on understanding the key barriers to recycling behavior. Its long-term goal is to create a data-driven and actionable tool that will provide solutions to address behavior gaps. Kaylor says recycling coordinators would be able to use TRP’s tool to identify parts of their community where recycling participation may not be at desired levels and get recommendations on how to address those gaps in participation.
RECYCLING RATES HAVE BEEN MOSTLY STAGNANT FOR THE LAST DECADE. THE KEYS TO INCREASING RECYCLING RATES INCLUDE CONSUMER RECYCLING EDUCATION, ACCESS TO RECYCLING, AND POLICY WORK. material types, brands, government, MRFs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers, and trade associations are working with TRP on the project.
The Future of Beverage Container Plastics The benefits of plastic packaging are numerous: It is flexible, lightweight, easy to transport, and is hygienic and shatterproof. Research shows that plastic is the preferred packaging material of not only industry but also consumers. PET packaging uses less water and energy to produce than other packaging types (e.g., aluminum, glass, 22 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
paperboard containers, and PET soda bottles). And, it’s 100 percent recyclable. So, what’s the problem? Recycling rates have been mostly stagnant for the last decade, illuminating the fact that there’s plenty of work to be done on the recycling front. The keys to increasing recycling rates, according to Kaylor, include consumer recycling education, access to recycling, and policy work. “The access still just is not there for a lot of our population,” she says about why consumers don’t recycle more. “The packaging is still confusing and is still evolving and changing. And even with that, we’re still lacking a lot of
“Is it that [consumers] don’t believe [the recycling system actually works]? Is it that they don’t understand it? Or is it that they’re too busy to engage with it,” she wonders. TRP’s goal is to “meet people where they’re at” and find out how to get them involved in the recycling process. Until then, consumers show no sign of slowing down their behavior of purchasing goods packaged in plastic. Because of that, bottled water companies will continue to seek innovative packaging designs, putting their bottled water products in plastic containers that are not only pleasing to the eye but also easy on the recycling stream because they are 100 percent recyclable. For its members, IBWA will continue to work with legislators to find solutions to current plastic issues that take into consideration both the wants of the consumer and the needs of the environment. BWR
Chris Torres is IBWA’s communications coordinator. Contact him at ctorres@ bottledwater.org.
the end markets that are needed [for the recycled content].”
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How Much Do You Know About Your U.S. Government? Take this short civics quiz to find out
By J.P. Toner, IBWA Director of Government Relations
For this Government Relations column, we’re trying something a little different. Let’s have some fun, and see what you remember from your high school civics class. Specifically, what do you recall about the U.S. government, how it operates, and the role of the constituent? See how many questions you can answer correctly. We’ll start off with some easy questions, then include a few tricky ones. (Answer are located on p. 25, but no cheating!)
What is the supreme law of the land?
O O O O
Declaration of Independence Federalist Papers U.S. Constitution Bible
What are the three branches of government?
O Executive, Legislative, and Judicial O President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House O Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear O Congress, Lobbyists, and PACs 24 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have?
O O O O
15 25 27 31
How long is a term for a U.S. Senator?
O O O O
2 years 6 years 8 years Unlimited
How long is a term for a U.S. Representative?
O O O O
2 years 4 years 6 years 8 years
Who is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives?
O O O O
Nancy Pelosi Kamala Harris Simon Cowell Vladimir Putin
What are some of the powers of the President of the United States?
O O O O
Veto bills Appoint federal judges Commander in Chief of the U.S. military All of the above
How many seats are there on the Supreme Court?
O O O O
5 6 9 11
How old does a citizen need to be to vote in an U.S. election?
O O O O
16 18 21 35
What is an example of civic participation?
O O O O
Voting Running for office Contacting elected officials All of the above
Why does the U.S. flag have 13 stripes?
O For the original 13 colonies O For the number of signers of the Declaration of Independence O Betsy Ross liked the number 13 O All of the above
Which of the following is a power reserved only for the federal government?
O O O O
Choose the winner on Survivor Declare war Imposing taxes Sell lottery tickets
What does PAC stand for?
O O O O
Peace and Comfort Power Advocacy Corruption Political Action Committee Pickles and Coleslaw
What do we call the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution?
O O O O
The Bill of Independence First and Ten Amendments of the People The Bill of Rights
How many electoral votes are there?
O O O O
200 135 538 666
To see how you did, turn this page upside down for the answer key. Many of the questions above are included in the test for U.S. citizenship and are important foundations of what made and makes this country unique. Do you think you could pass the U.S. citizenship test? You can give it a try at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website: bit. ly/USCIS_CivicsTest. BWR
ANSWER KEY TO CIVICS TEST 1-C, 2-A, 3-C, 4-B, 5-A, 6-A, 7-D, 8-C, 9-B, 10-D, 11-A, 12-B, 13-C, 14-D, 15-C
NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 25
When the Truth Hurts
What bottled water critics refuse to admit: research shows plastic bottled water containers have the least impact on the environment. By Sabrina E. Hicks, IBWA Director of Communications
I’ve noticed that a harbinger of cooler weather is that our critics actually take off their gloves—as they ramp up promotion of their anti-bottled water campaigns. Hot summer days are over, and, in their opinion, the consumer need for convenient, safe, portable, and healthy hydration has tapered off. Thus, anti-bottled water types once again feel comfortable enough to spout disinformation about the products produced by IBWA members. This year, the negative chatter seems particularly loud and egregious. Almost weekly, IBWA staff notice another falsehood making the rounds on social or traditional media. Presented in the following text are some misrepresentations of the facts that have been broadcast recently—along with 26 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
sourced corrections. Keep this column handy because, when you notice false or inaccurate information published by your local media or on your social newsfeed, it will equip you with the truth to educate consumers, media personnel, legislators, and other interested parties.
Why the Lightweight Wins the Fight Articles glorifying the use of alternative beverage packaging materials (such as glass, paperboard cartons, and, of course, aluminum) are commonplace. However, beverage containers made from those materials—in addition to PET soda bottles—were found to be wanting by a life cycle assessment
(LCA) conducted for IBWA by Trayak, a sustainability consultancy. Using COMPASS, the leading streamlined LCA solution for packaging, researchers analyzed not only the packaging types listed above but also PET water bottles, and they came to this conclusion: the 16.9-ounce PET bottled water has the least impact on the environment. One sentence from Trayak’s full report crystallized the issue for me: “Lower material usage means less impact from material extraction, manufacturing, and ultimately results in less material entering landfills or needing to be recycled.” (Here’s a link to the LCA’s executive summary: bit.ly/ Trayak_LCA2021.) The average PET bottled water container not only weighs
COMMUNICATIONS the least—a mere 8.3 grams—but also it produces the fewest greenhouse gas emissions, uses the least amount of fossil fuels, and requires the least amount of water for its production. You can download the graphic that concisely presents the results from Trayak’s LCA (shown at left) here: bit.ly/EnvironmentalImpactOfDrinkPackaging2021. So, the statement that should silence our critics (but doesn’t) is this: PET bottled water bottles are the lightest of all beverage containers because they use less resources; thus, it follows that PET bottled water containers have the least impact on the environment.
Bottled Water Containers Are Not “Waste-d” Here’s an interesting point that’s often overlooked. At 8.3 grams, it takes almost three (2.6) PET water bottles to weigh—that is, use as much plastic—as one 22.2 grams PET soda bottle. Soda producers have to use thicker plastic due to the carbonation process that’s the namesake of “carbonated soft drinks.” Bottled water bottlers producing still water—the No.1 packaged beverage in the United States—don’t have to deal with that issue, so they have been able to reduce their environmental footprint by continually lightweighting their containers. In fact, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), between 2000 and 2014 the average weight of a 16.9 oz PET bottled water container reduced by 51 percent, resulting in a savings of 6.2 billion pounds of PET resin during that time period. In a "Report on PET Water Bottle Recycling in 2019," research published in August 2021 by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), PET water bottles were found to make up 51 percent of the PET bottles found in curbside recycling programs. In CRV bales, plastic water bottles account for nearly 70 percent of the PET bale composition, with
plastic soda containers making up approximately only 10 percent. While everyone can agree that recycling rates in the United States need to improve, it is worth noting that the latest PET water bottle recycling rate of 31.1 percent is higher than the overall PET bottle recycling rate, which stands at 27.9 percent. In addition, Keep America Beautiful research (kab.org/litter-study) shows that, although bottled water is the No.1 packaged drink by volume in the United States (outselling all other beverages), littered liquor/wine (mini bottles), beer, sports/energy drinks, and soda containers each outnumber bottled water. Together, these research projects show bottled water drinkers are eco-conscious, habitually recycling their empties—at least more so than soda drinkers. Here’s the issue: When activists focus on one category type (i.e., bottled water), and thereby single out one industry, that will never achieve a reduction in total solid waste. Any successful recycling and waste reduction program must be a shared responsibility between all producers and users of plastic packaging. America’s issue is not plastic; it’s plastic waste. U.S. legislators have turned their attention to the plastic waste issue, and they are currently deciding the fate of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes funding for the REYCLE Act and Save Our Seas 2.0 Section 302 grants. The legislation introduces the creation of a more robust domestic recycling and waste management system—one that would develop a circular economy for plastics. That system would help the United States recover and recycle more plastic—and ultimately create more recycled content for use in products like rPET and rHDPE beverage containers. (For the record, bottled water producers started using 25, 50, even 100 percent recycled content long before any state mandates were signed into law.)
AMERICA’S ISSUE IS NOT PLASTIC; IT’S PLASTIC WASTE. Let’s Be Real Results from a recent IBWA Harris Poll and BMC research show that plastic is the preferred packaging material for consumers. And industry likes plastic because it’s shatterproof, lightweight, hygienic, safe, resealable, and, very importantly, 100-percent recyclable. Thanks to modern technology, PET water bottles can be recycled again and again to create new products, including new beverage bottles. (According to NAPCOR, PET is “infinitely recyclable.” Learn more at bit.ly/NAPCOR_PETpackaging.) In its manufacturing process, plastic uses less water and less energy—and releases less CO2—than other packaging options, and, because it is so lightweight, less fuel is necessary for its transportation. Lastly, more scientists are highlighting the fact that the use of other packaging options in place of plastic would be significantly worse for the environment. Keith Christman, the managing director of plastic markets at the American Chemistry Council summarized it nicely when speaking with IBWA earlier this year: “The problem we need to solve is keeping plastics, and other trash, out of the environment, and I don’t think changing to [packaging] alternatives will do that.” While critics of bottled water may be well-intentioned, their inaccurate portrayal of our industry and products, coupled with their demand for food and beverage manufacturers to stop using plastic, are not a means to an end for America’s recycling and waste management issues. BWR
NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 27
IBWA’s Emergency Management Role
When natural disasters strike, IBWA helps members provide lifesaving bottled water By Bob Hirst, Senior Vice President of Education, Science, and Technical Relations
One of IBWA’s most notable taglines is “Bottled Water: Always There When You Need It.” When natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes happen, drinking water systems are often compromised or shut down completely. In addition, the destruction of private wells, particularly in rural areas, further reduces the availability of potable water. This year, the major earthquake in Haiti and the devastation 28 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
left behind from Hurricane Ida are just two examples of when there was great need for lifesaving bottled water. In preparation for such events, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that consumers include commercially bottled water in their emergency kits, storing the originally sealed containers in a cool, dark place. FEMA suggests that you store 1 gallon per person per day for several days.
When safe drinking water is not available—whether due to a natural or manmade disaster—the need for drinking water is immediate. Temporary water treatment plants can provide larger quantities of water, but installation may take several days to get up and running. Repairs to public water systems (PWS) may require weeks to become fully operational again. So, the immediate interim solution is bottled
TECHNICAL UPDATE water. A structured response to a PWS outage typically consists of the following: bottled water distribution; followed by, in some cases, temporary solutions such as package treatment plants or generators; then restarting PWS treatment plants and distribution systems once any necessary repairs have been made.
Rapid Response FEMA typically purchases and stores millions of liters of bottled water to be distributed immediately after a disaster or emergency. However, that supply can quickly be depleted. When that happens, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, and many others play a vital role. They assess which localities are in need of water and other relief supplies, and find sources for those supplies. The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) not only identifies areas of need but also coordinates the logistics required to transport any goods to those communities. ALAN’s role is important, as FEMA often commandeers large numbers of trailers to deliver relief supplies. For example, during FEMA’s Hurricane Ida response, ALAN provided the necessary logistics to identify available bottled water supplies and the trucks needed to deliver those products. What is IBWA’s part in all of this? IBWA is a cog in the relief effort wheel, and our function has evolved over the years. Some of our early responsibilities included soliciting bottled water donations from members after 9/11 and coordinating points of delivery near New York City and Washington, DC. That same system was employed after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, and it worked well. However, FEMA now works from a position of “readiness” (rather than response); thus, in anticipation of future events, FEMA procures bottled water
IT TAKES A LOT OF STRATEGY AND DETERMINATION TO ENSURE THAT BOTTLED WATER IS AVAILABLE FOLLOWING A CATASTROPHIC EVENT.
from several bottlers through a contract purchasing system. FEMA stores that bottled water, which enables the agency to quickly distribute it, when necessary. Likewise, several U.S. states that are vulnerable to hurricanes, for example, now routinely purchase supplies of bottled water. FEMA’s strategic plan of purchasing bottled water in advance of need has helped to reduce the stress placed on industry in the days that immediately follow a disaster. However, once advance supplies dwindle, IBWA once again plays a role in the response. IBWA, as an active partner with FEMA and ALAN, participates in meetings to monitor community needs of bottled water supplies and hear reports on the operational status of public water systems in affected areas. Other FEMA / ALAN partners will pass along any intelligence they have about drinking water needs to IBWA— and we’ll get word out to our members via emailed bulletin reports, advising members of the need and supplying them with contact information to help ensure bottled water deliveries are swiftly organized. The information chain does not end there. Other factors often impact bottlers’ capacities and ability to deliver large quantities of water to communities in need. For example, after Hurricane Ida, it became apparent that some bottlers had to limit their bottled water production. The two most cited reasons were container supply issues (i.e., reduced stock of PET resins or pre-manufactured PET bottles and
closures) and logistics (i.e., not enough trucks for transportation). Through our ALAN connections and relationships with other NGOs, IBWA was able to determine causative factors from the PET Resin Association (PETRA) for the supply issues. Temporary shutdowns of PET refineries in Louisiana reduced the availability of chemicals to manufacture PET resins—and that reduced the production quantities of PET bottles. Another ALAN partner, Truckstop. com, provided IBWA with information on reduced transportation availability. Because of our participation in ALAN, IBWA had the connections to help ensure our members got the transportation assistance they needed. IBWA shared any updates with members via the emailed hurricane bulletins. It takes a lot of strategy and determination to ensure that bottled water is available following a catastrophic event. But like our members, IBWA is happy to do the work to ensure lifesaving bottled water is “there when you need it.” BWR
NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 29
certified plant operators (CPOs) are encouraged to complete the following quiz for ½ IBWA continuing education unit (CEU). The questions are derived from material presented in this issue of the Bottled Water Reporter, the IBWA Plant Technical Reference Manual, and the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice. Submit this quiz to Linda Amar (email@example.com / Fax: 703.683.4074), IBWA Education and Technical Program Coordinator, 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22134. Look for additional quizzes in future issues and earn additional IBWA CEUs!
Name______________________________________________________ Company__________________________________________________ Address____________________________________________________ City_______________________________________________________ State/Province______________________________________________
Check your selection for each question
Which of the following statements is FALSE?
O Each IBWA member bottling facility is required to have at least 3 IBWA Certified Plant Operators (CPOs). O The IBWA Plant Technical Reference Manual and Code of Practice are the basis for the CPO exam. O All CPO candidates are required to sit for and pass the IBWA CPO exam at least once to achieve initial certification status. O IBWA CPOs must acquire a minimum of 21 CEUs during each 3-year certification period.
____ is the principal federal agency that coordinates responses to natural and other disasters.
O O O O
Occupational Safety and Health Administration Food and Drug Administration Federal Emergency Management Agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CPO candidates should allow at least _____ to study for the CPO exam.
O O O O
1 week 3 months 30 days 1 year
IBWA’s primary partners in emergency response are FEMA and the American Logistics Aid Network.
O True O False
Which of the following FDA rules does NOT apply to bottled water?
O O O O
21 CFR 165.110 21 CFR 129 21 CFR 117 41 CFR 141
30 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
The term applied to a bottling plant’s stream of raw materials used to manufacture bottled water is _____.
O O O O
Supply chain Inventory Purchase orders Chain of custody
The two most important parts of a bottled water label are _____ and _____.
O O O O
Principal display panel Nutrition facts panel Information panel Contents statement
Organizations that assist in disaster relief but are not associated with FEMA are _____.
O O O O
Charitable organizations Non-government organizations (NGOs) State emergency management agencies All of the above
A contents statement such as “1 gallon (128 fl oz) is correct under FDA labeling regulations.
O True O False
A primary reason for the almost immediate demand for bottled drinking water after a disaster is _____.
O Depletion of stock on grocery store shelves O Increased consumer demand O Failure or impairment of a local public water system O All of the above
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Presage Analytics . . . . . . . . www.presageanalytics.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Sigma Home Products Co., Ltd.. . . . . . . . www.sigmahomeproducts.com. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Steelhead Inc. . . . . . . . . . . www.steelheadinc.com. . . . . .Outside Back Cover Want to Advertise in IBWA Media? If you are interested in advertising in IBWA's Bottled Water Reporter magazine, Splash weekly e-newsletter, or the recently updated website—www.bottledwater.org— contact Stephanie Reyna: firstname.lastname@example.org or 817.719.6197.
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www.bottledwater.org/membership NOV/DEC 2021 • BWR • 31
BOTTLED WATER: BY THE NUMBERS Three-quarters of 18 - 55+ year-old Americans (72%) prefer to buy products with packaging that’s easily recyclable or reusable.
Across generations, 9-in-10 Americans believe that school-aged children should be taught to recycle responsibly.
U.S. Non-Sparkling and Sparkling Water The majority of bottled Share By Container Material, 2020 water containers are made with PET or HDPE plastic packaging and are 100% CANS/OTHER recyclable, accepted at 2.5% recycling facilities across GLASS the United States. 0.4% PLASTIC Glass is also 100% recyclable; 97.1% however, many recycling companies no longer accept glass due to contamination and expense issues.
Of bottled water drinkers who have a packaging preference, 79% prefer it in plastic bottles.
THE 16.9 OZ PET BOTTLED WATER CONTAINER USES THE LEAST AMOUNT OF MATERIAL.
GLASS BOTTLE (300.6 GRAMS)
PET SODA BOTTLE (22.2 GRAMS)
BEVERAGE CARTON (21.8 GRAMS)
ALUMINUM CAN (19.7 GRAMS)
PET BOTTLED WATER (8.3 GRAMS)
ULTIMATELY, THAT MEANS PET BOTTLED WATER CONTAINERS HAVE:
LESS IMPACT FROM MATERIAL EXTRACTION
LESS IMPACT FROM MANUFACTURING
LESS MATERIAL ENTERING LANDFILLS OR NEEDING TO BE RECYCLED
Sources: SK Group (bit.ly/SK_EcoFriendlyProductPreference); Beverage Marketing Corporation, Bottled Water in the U.S. Through 2025; Times Online (bit.ly/TO_GlassRecyclingContamination); Trayak, Life Cycle Assessment (bit.ly/EnvironmentalImpactOfDrinkPackaging2021) 32 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG
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