Bottled Water Reporter (Spring 2023)

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BWRWWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG IN THIS ISSUE A PUBLICATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL BOTTLED WATER ASSOCIATION BOTTLED WATER REPORTER | SPRING 2023 HOD Focus: Do Your Route Salespeople Suffer From a Confi dence Gap? How to Answer FAQs About Bottled Water Latest CPO Program Updates Pros and Cons of Chemical Recycling BEST PRACTICES OF THE BEST FLEETS


8 | Best Practices of the Best Fleets

Experts from NAFA–Fleet Management Association offer insights into how HOD and small-pack bottled water companies can tackle issues such as truck shortages, high fuel prices, route management, and staffing shortages. By Christine Umbrell

15 | How to Build Great Sales Conversations Across Your Team

Do your route salespeople shy away from having important sales conversations with their customers? They might be suffering from a confidence gap. But there’s a way to overcome that: Give your team a playbook that includes conversation starters, questions to ask, stories to share, and a call to action.



20 | The Latest Recycling Debate: Chemical Recycling

Does chemically recycling plastic offer a way to meet the growing demand for recycled plastic?


22 | Answers to Common Questions About Bottled Water

Ask your sales team and other employees to read this column to learn how to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about bottled water.


24 | IBWA CPO Program Overview and Exam Update

The details you need to know about IBWA’s revisions to the CPO exam and one of its primary study materials, the Plant Technical Reference Manual .


28 | Visual Aids That Make a Difference

Consumers want the facts about the bottled water industry, and these visuals can help.


VOL. 63 • NO. 1
BOTTLED WATER REPORTER, Volume 63, Number 1. Published four 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, 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 $10. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Bottled Water Reporter, 1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22314-2973. CHAIR'S COMMENTARY 2 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE ...................................... 4 WATER NOTES 6 CPO QUIZ ......................................................... 26 ADVERTISERS 27 CALENDAR 27


Welcome to our Springtime issue of the Bottled Water Reporter.

As your Chairman, I get a moment to share my thoughts about IBWA, the industry in general, and any particular events or activities. This issue is devoted to the home and office delivery (HOD) segment of our industry. Although the small-package business seems always a dominant subject in the press and even among ourselves, the HOD business is a vital part of our industry and our IBWA membership. It is a significant part of the fabric of all that we weave for the public good—and the healthy hydration of our consumers and what we offer potential consumers. We are the No.1 beverage in America. We are not giving up this august position. The American consumer wants us and needs us.

My vision is that our HOD and PET products will become ever present in the minds of our consumers as climate change continues its savage march across the landscape of our existence. There is no escape from the impact of these events as we see them unfold in the Western States or the intensity of our East Coast hurricanes or the destructive storms that plow through our Mid-Western croplands. We remain one of the most important industries for contemporary times. Our nation’s infrastructure is failing. Failing from the stress of damaging floods, consistent higher temperatures causing the introduction of new biological contaminants, and discharges of new chemicals to be removed by our public treatment trains. These, coupled with regional scarcity of water and the ravages of time alone, will be a constant challenge to public water. The public investment required in infrastructure is enormous and challenging. Our market presence will assuredly continue to be the bedrock of safe, healthy hydration.

It is imperative that our IBWA members remain vigilant in the exercise of quality control and quality assurance. The same pressures that we face in our public water supplies we face as individual companies. We must monitor our performance with respect to our water resources. We must monitor our finished products on an intensive and uncompromising scale. Our consumers drink our products because they trust us while seeking to have healthy lives. If one of us fails, we all fail!

I ask for your participation in IBWA. I ask, as I always will, that you attend our meetings, that you join our committees, and that you support your industry colleagues each day to assure that when you say, “I am a member of IBWA,” it means trustworthy, reliable, safe, and that you represent a community of support and good deeds for our nation.

Happy Spring,

International Bottled Water Association



Henry R. Hidell, III, Hidell International

Vice Chair

Hih Song Kim, BlueTriton Brands


Joe Bell, Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc.

Immediate Past Chair

CR Hall, Hall's Culligan


Shayron Barnes-Selby, Primo Water

Brian Hess, Niagara Bottling LLC

Doug Hidding, Blackhawk Molding Co.

Dan Kelly, Polymer Solutions International

Jillian Olsen, Cherry Ridge Consulting LLC

David Redick, Steelhead, Inc.

Brad Wester, Premium Waters, Inc.

William Patrick Young, Absopure Water Co., Inc.


Chair Henry R. Hidell, III, Hidell International

Shayron Barnes-Selby, Primo Water

Joe Bell, Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc.

CR Hall, Hall's Culligan

Brian Hess, Niagara Bottling LLC

Dan Kelly, Polymer Solutions International

Hih Song Kim, BlueTriton Brands

Robert Smith, Grand Springs Distribution

William Patrick Young, Absopure Water Co., Inc.


Communications Committee

Julia Buchanan, Niagara Bottling, LLC

Maureen Hendrix, Primo Water

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

Derieth Sutton, Niagara Bottling LLC.

Membership Committee

Marge Eggie, Polymer Solutions International

Kelley Goshay, Primo Water

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



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Recent truck shortages, volatile fuel prices, and a tight labor market are just a few of the fleet-related issues impacting bottled water companies in 2023.

Our cover story, “Best Practices of the Best Fleets” (p.8), provides thought-provoking recommendations from experts who are part of NAFA–Fleet Management Association. They share best practices and offer advice on how bottled water companies can build and maintain their delivery fleets. From this article, you’ll learn tips on how to juggle the ongoing effects of inflation and supply-and-demand issues, while overseeing the purchase and maintenance of trucks, managing routes and deliveries, and hiring and retaining mechanics and drivers.

In the HOD segment of the bottled water industry, the most successful drivers see their routes as their own small businesses. But what if your route drivers don’t consider themselves professional salespeople? What if they lack the confidence to start up sales conversations with your customers? In “How to Build Great Sales Conversations Across Your Team” (p.15), Jim Karrh, a professor at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business and former IBWA member, offers suggestions that will help your employees balance efficient deliveries with holding meaningful conversations that help them cross- and up-sell.

In our Communication’s column (p.22), we provide answers to some of the most common questions asked about the bottled water industry. And, as an added bonus, the By The Numbers column (p.28) offers visual aids you and your employees can use to help convey those pro-bottled water points. The Technical Update column (p.24) continues the theme of helping your employees be successful by detailing the revisions we’ve made to the association’s Plant Technical Reference Manual (PTRM) and updates to IBWA’s certified plant operation (CPO) exam. The Government Relations column (p.20) turns the conversation to the ongoing debate in state capitals on how to best handle waste disposal issues and asks, Will chemical recycling offer an alternative option to mechanical recycling?

As we head into the summer months, your seasonal business is sure to increase and make more demands on your production lines and personnel. This HOD-themed issue of Bottled Water Reporter offers expert recommendations you can put in place to help keep up with the consumer demand for your quality, safe, refreshing products. It also presents examples of how other industries have tackled fleet issues and sales challenges, which I hope provides plenty of inspiration. Let us know if you are able to put any of these recommendations to work at your companies!

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


President Joe Doss

Vice President of Communications

Jill Culora

Vice President of Government Relations

Cory Martin

Vice President of Education, Science, and Technical Relations

Al Lear

Director of Government Relations

J.P. Toner

Director of Communications

Sabrina E. Hicks

Director of Member Services Cheryl Bass

Coordinator of Conferences, Meetings, and Programs

Claire Crane

Communications Coordinator Courtney Miller

Coordinator of Database Systems, Membership, and Technical Services

Chancè Gatoro

Bottled Water Reporter Layout and Design

Rose Connelly Tel: 315.447.4385


Sabrina E. Hicks

Advertising Sales Stephanie Schaefer

ADVERTISE WITH US IN 2023 For more information, email .




The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on March 14 that it is proposing a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) that would set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in tap water, including for PFOA and PFOS as individual contaminants, and PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS, and GenX chemicals as a PFAS mixture. The proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS are set at 4 parts per trillion (ppt). Also, a Hazard Index—a measurement tool based on combinations of four PFAS and their Health

Based Water Concentration (HBWC)—is proposed for assessing the impact of PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and HFPO-DA. The HBWCs are established for PFHxS at 9 ppt, GenX at 10 ppt, PFNA at 10 ppt, and PFBS at 2000 ppt. The proposal also includes non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGS) for the same PFAS. A summary of EPA’s proposal can be found online at sdwa/and-polyfluoroalkylsubstances-pfas. Public comments on the proposal will be due 60 days after March 29, 2023, the date the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register.

The six PFAS included in the EPA proposal are included in Method 537.1, which is IBWA’s recommended testing method. IBWA’s standards of quality (SOQs) for PFAS are 5 ppt for one PFAS and 10 ppt for more than one PFAS, and for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). IBWA’s PFAS Subcommittee (part of the

IBWA requires its members to test their bottled water products annually for PFAS, using the EPA Method 537.1.

Technical Committee) will be reviewing EPA’s proposed rule for public drinking water and considering if a need exists for possible changes to the IBWA’s SOQ for PFAS. IBWA staff will also continue to monitor the EPA PFAS proposal.

EPA’s Proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation

WATER NOTES 6 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG COMPOUND PROPOSED MCLG PROPOSED MCL (ENFORCEABLE LEVELS) PFOA Zero 4.0 ppt (also expressed as ng/L) PFOS Zero 4.0 ppt PFNA 1.0 (unitless) Hazard Index 1.0 (unitless) Hazard Index PFHxS PFBS HFPO-DA (commonly referred to as GenX Chemicals)
IBWA requires its members to test for PFAS, using EPA Method 537.1.

Room Block Open for the 2023 Annual Business Conference and Trade Show

The 2023 IBWA Annual Business Conference and Trade Show will be held in Las Vegas, at the Westgate Resort and Casino, September 11-14, in conjunction with PACK EXPO. Among the many advantages of staying at the Westgate is that the hotel is within walking distance to the Las Vegas Convention Center, the location of the PACK EXPO Trade Show. While IBWA is co-locating with PACK EXPO, the


association will have its own room block for our conference and trade show attendees. Please only make your hotel reservations through IBWA, as the association does not get credit for rooms booked through PACK EXPO and corporate programs or with loyalty points. If the association doesn’t meet its room block, then IBWA is subject to paying for all the rooms not sold.

To make a hotel reservation:

• Do not make reservations on the Westgate website.

• Do reserve online by typing this URL in your web browser: https://book. or

Do call Westgate between 6:00 am – 9:00 pm EST at 800.635.7711, and indicate that you want to make a reservation at the Westgate Resort and Casino within the International Bottled Water Association room block. Use this code: SIBW3R.

EPR Legislation: Focus on Oregon and Washington

A relatively new policy approach to reducing waste is extended producer responsibility (EPR). In 2022, 40 EPR-related state bills received consideration, and legislatures are expected to remain interested in pushing such legislation through this year. IBWA continues to be involved in waste management discussions to ensure that bottled water industry’s concerns are addressed. The most recent states to consider proposed EPR laws are Oregon and Washington.

In Oregon, IBWA has signed on to a letter opposing two bills that are being addressed in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment but have yet to advance. Senate Bills 543 and 544 follow passage of a sweeping EPR package last session and seek to make additional changes to waste reduction and product management prior to any results from EPR regulations. In the letter—organized by the American Chemistry Council with cosigners including the Plastics Industry

Association, AMERIPEN, Consumer Brands Association, Flexible Packaging Association, Oregon Business and Industry, and Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association—it is explained that the group’s opposition stems from the fact that the “legislature should allow Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and stakeholders to complete the EPR rulemaking process first before proposing sweeping packaging policy changes that will undoubtedly add state administrative costs and be unduly burdensome for the regulated community.”

In Washington, House Bill 1131, considered the vehicle for the state’s EPR program, did not come up for a vote in the House prior to the deadline of March 8. Hurdles included a long list of potential amendments and continuing negotiations over important defining language in the legislation. Lawmakers will likely head back to the drawing board during the interim to work on new language for a bill in 2024.


IBWA Launches New Political Engagement Resources on Advocacy App

IBWA has launched three new advocacy and outreach resources on the association’s advocacy app, VoterVoice:

• The Best Way to Approach Congressional Staffers: CongressionalStaffers

• How to Brief Like a Pro: FN_BriefLikePro

• 118th Congress Demographics: The People That Make Up Our Legislative Branch:

These resources will better prepare IBWA members to engage with policymakers across the country by better understanding who represents them in Congress—and gaining insight on how to get to know them. All were prepared by FiscalNote, IBWA’s legislative and regulatory engagement service provider.



Fleet management experts share tips and expedient practices for building efficient and successful bottled water company fleets

Truck shortages, volatile fuel prices, and a tight labor market are just a few of the fleet-related issues impacting bottled water companies in 2023. Fleet managers must juggle the ongoing effects of inflation and supply-and-demand issues as they oversee the purchase and maintenance of trucks, manage routes and deliveries, and hire and retain drivers and mechanics.

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 9

To assist fleet managers in navigating the choppy waters ahead, Bottled Water Reporter spoke with three fleet management experts certified by NAFA–Fleet Management Association: Ray Brisby, CAFM, manager of EMS fleet operations at Alberta Health Services in Canada; Beth Cooley, CAFM, director, Virginia Department of General Services, Office of Fleet Management Services; and Kevin Fisher, CAFM, director, commercial fleet solutions, at Induct EV.

Here, Brisby, Cooley, and Fisher share best practices and offer expert advice for bottled water companies as they build and maintain delivery fleets.

Prioritize Personnel

Superior fleet management begins with staffing skilled personnel. Starting at the top, bottled water companies should ensure fleet managers are well-qualified for their positions. “Most people don’t go to school with the plan to become a fleet manager,” says Brisby, so the position often doesn’t get the attention it needs. But make no mistake: Fleet management is a full-time job with key responsibilities.

“It shouldn’t just be an added responsibility for a staff member tasked with other jobs,” such as a financial or procurement

manager, says Brisby. “The costs and risks associated with running a fleet can escalate quickly, so you really need someone who understands what it means to truly manage a fleet.”

When it comes to hiring drivers and mechanics, the tight job market can make it difficult to find qualified prospects.

“Even before COVID, we were talking about the ‘silver tsunami’—the mass exodus of the workforce due to retirements,” says Cooley. That situation was exacerbated by pandemic shutdowns, when some workers chose not to return to their jobs even after restrictions were lifted—resulting in fewer drivers and mechanics available in the workforce.

Whether your company requires drivers with commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs) or can manage employing drivers who can handle larger non-CDL vehicles, you must maintain high standards. “From a driver qualification standpoint, I’m always looking for ways to screen out poor drivers—not to lower the standards to get drivers in the door,” because that can lead to less qualified drivers, more accidents, and higher long-term costs, says Brisby.

Experts recommend considering different strategies to suit your specific needs when determining whether to use CDL trucks requiring CDL-certified drivers, according to Brisby. While some bottlers stock larger vans that don’t require CDLs, others may choose larger trucks requiring more highly qualified—but fewer—drivers. Brisby suggests bottled water companies seeking CDL drivers consider paying part, or all, of the training costs for new hires to earn their CDL licenses. “If you’re willing to invest in their training, it can help young drivers get their foot in the door” and inspire loyalty, he says.

For those bottlers with on-premises mechanical shops, finding technicians also poses challenges. Expanding


benefit offerings is one strategy that can draw candidates: Cooley’s team offers generous employment packages, with multiple insurance options, holiday and vacation days, and more regular hours—all of which are attractive to mechanics who are used to working long hours and weekends at dealerships and more traditional shops. “The new generation of workers wants a work/life balance,” says Cooley, so bottled water companies that offer traditional hours will be at an advantage.

NAFA experts also put forth a unique proposal: looking at students as potential mechanic candidates. In Virginia, Cooley recommends partnering with high schools that offer automotive training programs, as well as vocational programs, to communicate job postings and attract young, qualified workers. Brisby suggests explaining to students that technician jobs for fleets can even be “stepping stones” to eventual fleet management positions.

Another strategy is looking outside of your geographical region, or even out of the country, and paying all or partial moving costs, for mechanics. In a previous position, Brisby hired several technicians from the United Kingdom. “It cost us some money, but once they were here, they were very grateful and dedicated employees who stuck with us for a very long time.”

Manage Asset Procurement

Fleet managers at bottled water companies are facing the same truck shortage impacting industries across the country. Given disruptions in the supply chain, competition for trucks is fierce. Although “we’re seeing some improvements in the availability” of parts, such as semiconductors, says Brisby, “there’s still a global raw material shortage” that impacts truck manufacturing; even rubber for tires has been in short supply. He has heard from truck manufacturers that pre-pandemic supply levels may not return until well into the 2025 model year. “So, we need to be very diligent in our planning and prioritizing, and making sure that we’re nimble enough that we can offset some of these unforeseen challenges of availability of units.”

Brisby recommends meeting with vehicle manufacturers or their fleet representatives to get honest assessments of their inventory and expected future availability. “A lot of OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] have very short production windows,” explains Brisby. “Plan in advance, be ready with your specifications and orders, and have your funding together, because when the order windows do open,” you will want to be at the front of the line, he says.

In years past, purchasing used, rather than new, vehicles was one option for supplementing fleets; however, given

the current high-priced used-vehicle market, that may not be an option in many locales. Fleet experts suggest extending the life of your current fleet, and even retaining end-of-life trucks. “Hold onto what you have, and maintain it until you have a new truck in hand,” says Fisher. “Focus on preventive maintenance because you don’t have a lot of choices” in acquiring new trucks quickly.

“With the limited vehicle availability or with the longer lead times, you’ll have to keep your fleet in better shape than in years past to ensure they stay on the road longer,” agrees Cooley. She recommends scheduling more preventive maintenance visits: Service vehicles every 4,000-5,000 miles, rather than the traditional 6,000-8,000 miles. “With a more aggressive preventive maintenance program, your vehicles may last longer.”

Cooley also notes that light-duty trucks have shorter acquisition periods than larger trucks. “You may have to move to cargo vans” when purchasing new equipment, she says—an option that could also alleviate the driver hiring shortage, as smaller vehicles may not require CDL drivers.

Compare Leasing Versus Owning

Pros and cons exist for both owning and leasing a fleet, so bottled water companies should weigh the options and determine what works best for their needs. “With leasing, you outsource the headaches and some of the risk, and you may have à la carte options. But it will cost you more,” says Cooley.

Leasing frees up capital to use on other investments and operating costs, according to Fisher. Fleet management companies can provide additional services that may be time- or money-savers—such as registration renewal, maintenance management programs, fuel efficiency programs, safety management, DOT compliance, and reselling at end-of-use, he says.

Owning, on the other hand, ties up more capital but will likely save money over lifetime vehicle costs. “If you have access to the capital, then you should buy your own fleet,” says Brisby, because the “full service” offered by leasing companies

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 11


Clearly written policies and procedures should guide your fleet, with consideration for both the vehicle side and the driver side of management. Kevin Fisher, CAFM, director, commercial fleet solutions, at Induct EV, notes that policies should prioritize DOT compliance—for example, maintaining driver qualification records, tracking hours of service to ensure daily limits are not exceeded, ensuring payrolls match timecard entries, and making appropriate vehicle condition reports.

Policies should include recommendations for hiring drivers. Those policies should require that your company “do the homework” before hiring, by checking drivers’ licenses and records, and then remain in touch with the DMV for ongoing monitoring, according to Beth Cooley, CAFM, director, Virginia Department of General Services, Office of Fleet Management Services. “In Virginia, we have a monitoring program where the DMV will notify us of any infractions of our drivers.” Be clear about the consequences for traffic violations and accidents—but also implement a program to recognize your facility’s top drivers.

“Your fleet policy and processes have to be rooted in your company’s ‘driver’s handbook,’” adds Ray Brisby, CAFM, manager of EMS fleet operations at Alberta Health Services in Canada. “The drivers are the frontline individuals responsible for the care and feeding of those vehicles, and they really need a guiding light” in the form of a document that outlines expectations for each aspect of vehicle care and use, including instructions on where and how to get fuel and maintenance, carwashing and vehicle care expectations, what to do in the event of a crash, and even rules regarding personal use of vehicles or carrying passengers.

Cooley also suggests implementing a strict policy against distracted driving, impaired driving, and handsfree driving. Her facility takes this policy one step further and recommends that drivers avoid using their phones while driving, for optimal safety: “When you’re on a phone call, you may be distracted, so we ask that drivers do not talk on the phone while driving.” In addition, she states that companies should require drivers to report any damage to vehicles immediately.

On the vehicle side, start by “right-sizing the vehicle to the job,” says Cooley, and don’t buy trucks that are larger than necessary for what you are carrying. Institute a clear preventive maintenance strategy, to ensure trucks are serviced at least twice a year, “and maybe more often right now since we can’t replace trucks as often.”

Equip vehicles with updated technologies, including cameras, to protect drivers should any incidents occur, says Cooley. She recommends placing cameras at the front, side, and rear of the exterior of the truck. “Also have one up front, inside of the cab with the driver,” to protect your company and your driver in the case of a lawsuit.

And of course, invest in fleet management software and a route management system that will collect the data you need for proper decision making, says Cooley. “Leverage telematics to help you develop a good replacement strategy, to determine how and when to replace equipment,” she says.

Fisher recommends fleet management information systems, paired with telematics, that, “at a basic level, measure speed, idling, and hard braking—which can lead to increased maintenance costs and wear-andtear,” he says. Telematics can help support DOT compliance, he adds, by maintaining driver qualification records, tracking hours of service to ensure daily limits are not exceeded, ensuring payrolls match timecard entries, and making appropriate vehicle condition reports.

Your software package should have the capability to track mechanical productivity from the time the vehicle is purchased until the time it’s sold at auction, says Cooley. It should capture all of the maintenance completed, the costs associated with the vehicle, fuel data, and any upfits, she says. Qualified fleet managers should be able to read the telematics and take note of trends: “If there’s a certain mechanical failure in one type of vehicle, it should alert us to that,” says Cooley.

Fleet management information systems may take the form of either off-the-shelf or customized programs, but whatever option you choose should include full reporting capabilities, according to Brisby. He believes the most important feature, when choosing the right system for a company, is “a good dashboard.” Fleet managers need quick snapshots of what’s happening in real time, in the categories of preventive maintenance compliance on each vehicle; unit availability, to evaluate downtime for each truck; fuel reporting; and cost-permile, a key benchmark for fleet managers to determine how much per vehicle mile it costs, explains Brisby.

In addition, if your company houses its own maintenance facility, you should invest in fleet maintenance management software, Brisby suggests. Such a program should include a work order management system, which includes the ability to forecast and predict vehicle maintenance requirements, which in turn enables work scheduling and shop loading.

can come at a high price tag. “If you do have the ability to purchase your vehicles, and the wherewithal to manage those assets, then in the long term, you will save money.”

To realize the cost savings associated with ownership, however, your company must have an excellent in-house fleet management team and appropriate telematics to guide decision making, according to Cooley. “If you own, you need the team to ensure it’s at minimum cost.”

For those fleets that don’t have a fleet manager on staff, or have a very small or upstart fleet, then fleet management companies or leasing companies can offer bundles services that can be a great support. “It can be very convenient,” says Brisby, but you do pay for that level of service.

Assess Fuel and Tire Options

Wildly fluctuating fuel prices have wreaked havoc on bottlers’ budgets over the past few years, with no end in sight. “I think we’re still going to see diesel and gasoline prices being very volatile,” says Brisby. He suggests bottled water companies examine how they’re acquiring fuel.

Cooley proposes establishing a blended fleet—comprising trucks fueled by gas, others fueled by diesel, and even electric vehicles (EVs)—to help protect companies in a volatile fuel market in which it is difficult to predict what’s coming next and where the spikes will be highest.

In addition, fleet managers may consider fuel-hedging— buying a set amount of fuel at a fixed price for later delivery, says Fisher. “When you make that commitment, sometimes you’ll be ahead of the game, and sometimes you won’t—but at least you’ll be closer to budget,” he says. With fuel contracts, says Cooley, “there’s no gray area, and everyone knows the price.” Contracts may include clauses for emergencies, such as gas pipe shutdowns or weatherrelated shutdowns, that help protect both parties. In those instances, the fleet is guaranteed it will get fuel—but at a higher price.

In addition to optimizing fuel purchases, many companies purchase high-quality products when buying truck parts, such as tires. But “it’s not always worth it to buy more expensive tires,” says Cooley. “Just because it’s more expensive does not mean it’s the better tire.” She encourages fleet managers to research all of the available tire options and compare costs and durability. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box: Cooley’s fleet is currently engaged in a pilot program equipping a few of her fleet with tires manufactured with soybean oil. “Those tires are holding up just as well as petroleum ones,” she says.

Driving habits also factor into costs associated with fuel and tire wear-and-tear. “The weight of a vehicle is not as important as the driving,” Cooley says. If a driver is constantly speeding up, then slamming on the brakes, that will cause more wear and use more fuel.

Embrace Blended Fleets

Integrating more EVs into fleets is another way to soften the blow of high fuel prices. Many industries have already added EVs to their fleets, as the vehicles are cleaner choices, with fewer greenhouse emissions. Although supply chain and vehicle availability issues have interrupted the rollout of EVs at some companies, now is a good time to prepare your company’s infrastructure to add some of these vehicles to your fleet.

EVs offer several environmental benefits, including a smaller carbon footprint, but “electric trucks as they exist today do not work for every company,” Fisher says.


“You cannot convert everything to EV. You need to have a blended fleet,” adds Cooley. She suggests that EV trucks may be a viable solution for local deliveries—for example, trucks that deliver goods locally and are housed in a local warehouse each night, such as some HOD trucks. But she advocates for a mix of EVs and trucks powered by natural gas, propane, and diesel, and says companies should not turn to all-electric fleets because problems persist with charging the vehicles.

“Range anxiety” associated with EVs is real, explains Brisby, noting that fleet managers—and drivers— have reason to be concerned that EV batteries will be completely drained before they reach either their destination or a suitable charging station. Plus, the time delays associated with charging vehicles mid-shift can reduce the number of deliveries made in a day’s work for HOD drivers.

Even when EVs can return to their home base to charge, there may be questions regarding whether the facilities have enough charging capacity to accommodate all of their EVs. “And what about the capacity of our electric grid?” Brisby asks. Cooley points to Texas and California in particular, where mandated rolling brownouts prevent companies from charging their EVs during designated downtimes. “You’ll need backups” in case charging is not possible, she says. Plus, “EVs wear tires faster and more easily than ICE-based tires,” because they’re heavier, due to the weight of the batteries.

For those companies that do add EVs to their fleets, Cooley recommends managing costs by charging vehicles during non-business hours, when electricity is typically less

expensive, and by not exceeding the capped amount of KW your facility is authorized to use, to prevent costly penalties.

Fisher encourages fleet managers to consider where EVs can play a role. “Maybe you won’t use EV for delivery vans—but maybe it’ll work for your service vans,” he suggests.

He also notes that EVs are not the only environmentally friendly solution. “All opportunities to reduce carbon output are beneficial,” Fisher says, so companies should consider diesel/electric hybrids, natural gas, propane, and renewable propane when considering future fleet purchases. “Any one of these is a great stepping stone to zero emissions.”

Looking beyond EVs, Brisby and Cooley predict that vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells will be an option in the next few years—and may eventually take over as a cleaner solution for many fleets. That technology is not totally void of greenhouse gases, but hydrogen “will be a game changer,” says Cooley, because it will drastically reduce charging times, plus it’s cleaner than electric batteries. Although the technology remains too expensive to be rolled out everywhere, she predicts prices will start to come down soon, and hydrogen will provide a cleaner, faster-charging method to power vehicles. BWR

Christine Umbrell is a freelance writer based in Herndon, Virginia. Email her at


NAFA—Fleet Management Association offers several resources that are available to both members and nonmembers:

• NAFA’s Online Buyer’s Guide: Fleet managers can access the guide to connect with suppliers of products and services for anything fleet-related; search by keyword, company, or location.

• Career HQ: This resource is dedicated to talent management, connecting professionals looking to secure positions with employers seeking highly qualified fleet and mobility professionals.

• “Fleet 101” E-Learning Courses: Seven courses cover the fundamentals of fleet management.

• NAFA’s website, Visit the website to browse other resources, and contact the membership department at for membership information.




It is a common, frustrating, and expensive problem among sales teams across many industries: Most sellers are far more confident in the value of what they sell than in the messaging behind it. Both surveys and personal experiences over the years have proven the case. In plain terms, professionals know they have good products and services yet aren’t sure of the best things to say, ask, show, and share when they have the precious opportunity to speak with customers and prospects. That “confidence gap” exists even among experienced professional salespeople in excellent companies.

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 15

To make matters worse, what if some of your most important sellers aren’t really in that category of “experienced professional salespeople”? What if they are instead route salespeople in a home and office delivery (HOD) operation, good at what they do: balancing the need for efficient deliveries in a seasonal business with simply trying to take care of customers?

In my experience working with sales teams over the years, I have come to see two revenue-killing results from that confidence gap. One result is that sellers—unsure of what to say and do—revert to talking about the things they know best, generally themselves and maybe something about the products they are selling. The other result is that they avoid sales conversations altogether. That latter scenario, unfortunately, might be familiar to you in an HOD business.

I entered the HOD world as a company marketing leader. An important part of our company’s business at the time was a seven-location HOD network. We recognized that businesses in the route sales industry have a unique marketing and sales opportunity: We are actually invited into customers’ homes and

businesses! (My friends in the marketing leader world were jealous.) Along the way, we get to provide customers something that is enjoyable and healthy, and we come to know many of them by name. Still, we weren’t great at crossselling or upselling.

Our team came up with a new service offering, and we were excited to let our existing fans and customers know about it. The most direct route (pardon the pun) was to enlist our drivers, let them know how customers would benefit, and support them by helping make the conversations easy. We prepared some very nice-looking brochures, asked them to share the brochures with customers, and even came up with some contests and prizes. What could go wrong?

A couple of weeks into the program, I was pulling into a gas station and noticed that one of our trucks was leaving. When I got out of my car, I also noticed something sticking out from one of the trash cans by the pumps. You guessed it: an entire box of those nice-looking brochures had been unceremoniously dumped. Simply put, the route driver simply didn’t want to talk to his customers about the offer— no matter how good the offer itself, the

look of the brochure, or the incentives to at least strike up a conversation.

Sure, dumping brochures in the trash was unacceptable behavior. We could address that, but we needed to address a bigger issue across the entire business. How could we affect the behavior of our colleagues who have the most contact with our customers?

The Dilemma: Sellers Who Aren’t Salespeople

The old maxim that “everyone is in sales” is true. Everyone in your business has a role in the customers’ experience and in building more opportunities across your markets. Unfortunately, it is also true that the very idea of selling is distasteful to many of your colleagues. It can seem pushy, threatening, and uncomfortable—basically something to avoid wherever possible.

Others might not want to be perceived as, you know, that guy. Salespeople have never had the greatest reputations! Even so, you might reasonably ask, “Why would anyone avoid a conversation to help other people, offering something (like bottled water) that is good for them? Don’t people 'sell' in other contexts every day—on social media, making recommendations, telling stories, all of that?” You would have a great point. An entire line of research has challenged assumptions about “that guy” anyway. While writing my book, I learned that studies of real, in-the-field sellers revealed something interesting: Extraverts don’t perform any better in sales than do introverts or those more in the middle of the scale. In fact, those in the middle—who are the majority of the population—do better than extraverts or introverts.

Rather than trying to change anyone’s minds about selling, I find it is more effective to simply reframe the problem. Your team is more likely to think of

Rather than trying to change anyone's mind about selling, I find it is more effective to simply reframe the problem.

their routes as a set of relationships (rather than as accounts) and their roles as efficient caretakers of those relationships. That’s not a bad place to start. No one has to change who they are, nor do they have to risk relationships in order to help others and generate more revenue in the process.

The Status Quo: Too Many Missed Opportunities

If the reality in HOD is that most customer contact happens through route salespeople, then let’s consider the lessons from other industries with a similar dynamic. For example, the world of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) is filled with businesses that serve a well-defined geography. The business is seasonal, with a spike in activity during the summer. Furthermore, the epicenter of customer contact is with the technicians (“techs”) who show up at customers’ homes and businesses to fix things and perform maintenance.

I have worked with a couple of HVAC clients who were not cross-selling or upselling effectively. They have sales teams and a call center, but the real opportunities often lurk in the real-time conversations that techs have with a homeowner or office manager. In that moment, the first order of business is to take care of the immediate problem or scheduled maintenance, but the HVAC business owners were convinced there were dozens of opportunities every day to provide added value with equipment upgrades, air-quality products, and the like. The frustrating problem was that the techs usually wouldn’t ask enough questions or make recommendations in the moment. Instead, they were moving along to the next stop as quickly as possible.

How could we change the pattern?

The first step was to make sure that operational metrics (such as the average

number of stops per day) weren’t coming at the expense of sales metrics. After all, if a tech would get criticized for taking too long with a customer, then that tech would not do anything to stretch the customer conversation. The second step was to implement a plan to leverage the unique resources of the techs: their diagnostic skills,

their sincere desire to help, and the credibility they have with customers in the moment.

The Plan: Focus on a Key Conversation

In businesses such as HOD and HVAC, I find it helpful to focus on the most direct unit to change that will

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 17
Let’s make sure to give customers what they want and, at the same time, take advantage of the unique, in-home conversational opportunities your business has every working day.


The most effective teams use playbooks as a guide for specific conversations and behaviors. It’s important that they not be seen as scripts to be memorized. Instead, they should represent best practices for your team—given the realities of your business and customer base. Many clients like to include in their playbooks a small number of “talk tracks.” These are essentially talking points, structured in a sequence that follows the pattern of a natural conversation. They are particularly helpful for colleagues who don’t quite know where to start (and aren’t comfortable going into sales mode with a product pitch). Here is what one talk track might look like for you:


“We are seeing more research that millions of people still aren’t drinking enough water every day—especially people who are exercising or just getting outside more during the summer.”


“How can we best make sure everyone here has great water on hand, so they don’t have to even think about it?”


“One of my customers decided that everyone would have their own dedicated water bottle, with their initials on it. They say it’s a gentle reminder to stay hydrated!”


“Most of my customers raise their orders ahead of time for the summer and fall, considering how active they will be. Which formats make the most sense for everyone here?”

Take these as inspiration for your own talk tracks, and involve your route salespeople in crafting the conversations they will feel most confident in leading!

offer the best results. That likely isn’t the route salesperson or even your overall marketing and sales approach. Rather, the unit to change is the conversation (and even that should be laser-specific).

Some business leaders might push back on that idea; they note how much happens digitally and less personally in marketing these days. Shouldn’t you offer more do-it-yourself options to customers and bypass those conversations? While digital and DYI are important, I say that ignoring your conversational opportunities would mean giving up an unfair advantage that HOD has over most other businesses.

Customers today feel more time pressure than ever, and they are inundated with information, pitches, and platforms. How many times have you been frustrated with a call center or app, wondering “Why can’t I talk to a real human being?” On the other hand, in an HOD business your route salespeople are actually invited into the homes and businesses of customers. Those customers want to be heard, they likely have questions, and they are often seeking advice. Therefore, let’s give customers what they want and, at the same time, take advantage of the unique conversational opportunities your business has every working day.

The best intervention likely isn’t generic communication training. It is difficult to try to change the average communication skill set of your team in the field (plus you have to offer it again every time you have new team members). You also don’t want to send a signal to your route salespeople that you are somehow trying to “fix” them or change who they are (see above). Nor do I recommend trying to motivate the team through a sales challenge or contest that worked in some other setting. Instead, what works is a conversational guide or “playbook” that is simple, specific, and


tailored—and that the route sales team helps create.

Conversational playbooks help the most when there is something changing— such as a new product, offer, or territory—and the team needs a single trusted source for information and best practices. Like a playbook for a sports team, your conversational playbook clearly sets out everyone’s roles. What goes in? Here are a few prototypical components:

• the ideal customer type for this offer or product

• key elements of the offer or product

• a few important questions to ask (and any common, reasonable questions to expect)

• a few customer stories worth sharing

Note this is not the same as product training! That type of training is important, but it is also in the technical language of features and functions—not the natural language of customers.

To make this work well, there is one other key consideration: invite your route salespeople to be part of the process. Ask them about the common questions they hear from customers. Let them share the ways they feel more comfortable giving recommendations. Collect interesting and fun stories from the field. Using their insights to help construct your playbook will give your team more ownership of their future customer conversations. You might even have your route salespeople vote on the incentives they would most value when they knock it out of the park with more sales! If I had taken these steps years ago, then I likely would have avoided a trash can full of expensive brochures.

Your Role as a Leader

As a leader at your company, what is your role and expectation? With a

proper process and follow-through, you can truly transform the conversations your route sales teams have with customers. In turn, that can build more topline revenue, more revenue per customer, and less customer churn among other direct benefits. You can also expect other benefits—less direct yet still valuable. Through the process of creating a playbook together, teams from sales, marketing, customer support, and operations break down the silos and get on the same page. That is the result of a comprehensive team effort.

For the individual business leader, I have the following three recommendations:

• Embrace the plan, and keep it a priority. You aren’t providing scripts; instead, you expect the group to build the playbook themselves, stay on schedule, and put it into action.

• Model the behavior you want to see in others. If we want everyone to be better at asking a few types of questions and sharing specific stories, then let the teams see you doing it yourself. (If it isn’t silky smooth the first time around, so much the

better—that actually helps others feel less anxious.)

• Establish and reinforce the right habits across the team. You’ll want to make sure the work of the playbook is updated as needed—and that it makes its way into team meetings, your website, etc.

The great news is twofold. First, your team’s customer conversations are just as manageable as are other parts of the business. Second, your team need not be perfect! In a scenario where most people lack confidence, your team only needs to be consistently good in order to generate a large (and profitable) business advantage.

Jim Karrh, PhD, is a former IBWA Aqua Award winner (as CMO of Mountain Valley Spring Company), the author of The Science of Customer

Connections: Manage Your Message to Grow Your Business (from Career Press), a speaker and consultant, a professor in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business, and host of The Manage Your Message Podcast Connect with him on LinkedIn, and learn more at

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 19
Your team's customer conversations are just as manageable as the other parts of your business.

The Latest Recycling Debate: Chemical Recycling

From bottle deposit bills to recycled content, from extended producer responsibility (EPR) to source and waste reduction, the battle lines over the proper disposal and reuse of plastic have been raging for years. As technology advances and new mandates are in-

troduced, the race to find the next best recycling option is continually evolving. Although limited use of the chemical recycling process has been recorded in recent years, legislators are now considering the issue more as the topic gains traction among state legislators. So, just

what is chemical recycling, what are its pros and cons, and what could it mean for the bottled water industry?

Defining the Process

Recycling, as most people know it today (e.g., curbside, deposit programs, etc.),


is classified as mechanical recycling: a process of recovering plastic waste by mechanical processes such as sorting, washing, drying, grinding, re-granulating, and compounding. Mechanical recycling represents more than 99.9% of the infrastructure and the business today. For mechanical recycling to be at its most efficient, the sorting step needs to be effective, but contamination remains a major concern impacting the effectiveness of that process.

Chemical recycling (also referred to as “advanced recycling”) is a process that uses chemicals to break down plastic waste into molecules, which are then used to produce new plastic products. Unlike mechanical recycling, products that are chemically recycled don’t need to be sorted based on color or resin. This is an important point, especially when you factor in that not all plastics are easy to recycle like the 100% recyclable HDPE and PET plastics used for bottled water containers.

Pros and Cons

Proponents of chemical recycling argue that it can help address the growing problem of plastic waste. They argue that chemical recycling can be used to recycle plastics that are currently difficult or impossible to recycle, such as mixed plastics or contaminated plastics. They also argue that chemical recycling can reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional recycling methods, as it can use less energy and produce fewer emissions.

However, critics of chemical recycling raise concerns about its environmental impact. They argue that the process can release toxic chemicals and emissions, such as greenhouse gases and air pollutants, and can also generate hazardous waste. Critics also question the economic viability of the process, as it can be more expensive than traditional recycling methods. Some

critics argue that chemical recycling can perpetuate a culture of waste and overconsumption. By providing an easy solution to plastic waste, chemical recycling may encourage continued production and consumption of plastic, rather than addressing the causes of the plastic waste crisis.

For the last few years, legislation has been introduced, if not debated, in a handful of states on the issue of chemical recycling. One of the first actions that states are trying to take is to define chemical recycling as a legitimate type of recycling with state statute. But even that has run into difficulty, as opponents of chemical recycling see this as a natural first step to approving chemical recycling sites within a state. The limited number of companies that are in the chemical recycling business (e.g., BASF, Eastman, and Dow) would gladly welcome support at the state level.

Due to the financial commitments necessary to get facilities up and running across the country, companies are looking for partners to help shoulder the processing costs. Many businesses are looking to the states to invest in this brave new world, as many governments struggle to keep up with the demands of plastic waste. Just as the first mechanical recycling facilities required support and investment, the same will need to be done if chemical recycling facilities are going to be more prominent.

Addressing issues like recycled content, EPR, and a circular economy is nothing new for the bottled water industry; what’s new are the recycled content mandates on packaging materials that are in high demand. Being able to capture those used materials and utilize them in the production of new products is the current focus of many manufacturers. While mechanical recycling has been the only means for obtaining those materials, the introduction of chemical


recycling provides new opportunities and new procedures for obtaining much needed resources.

Lawmakers who are strong advocates for EPR have supported their position by drawing attention to the waste produced from plastic products that are hard to recycle. Most understand that PET and HDPE containers, highly recycled and highly valued, are never the real target. But, as discussions go, it’s always easier to include all plastics than to single out the problem ones. But if a recycling system exists to handle all plastics and allows for the infinite reuse of those plastics, could EPR discussions evolve to only target products other than plastics?

For manufacturers, the idea of eliminating the issue of contamination would be a major benefit especially with the market for post-consumer recycled plastics. With supply lines and availability stretched thin, and questions surrounding the ability to achieve future recycled content use goals, discussions on the viability of chemical recycling are worth having.


Have you reached out to your state legislators to educate them about bottled water's low environmental impact and 100% recyclable bottles? If not, download IBWA's VoterVoice app from your app store to learn how to start.


Answers to Common Questions About Bottled Water

If you work in our industry, whether as a call center representative, plant employee, route salesperson, company executive, or nonprofit staff member, you undoubtedly will field questions from customers, family, and friends about bottled water. Below, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about bottled water. Make sure to turn to this issue’s By The Numbers column (p.28) for visuals that accompany this information, which you can use as a handy educational aid when talking with the public.

Does bottled water use up all the available water?

Bottled water production uses an extremely small amount of water. Of all the water used in the United States, just 0.01% is used to produce

bottled water—and that includes water for production and the contents for consumption. (See water droplet image on p.28.) The bottled water industry is transparent about its water use, each year publishing sales and production volume data provided by the Beverage Marketing Corporation. Environmental stewardship is part of the bottled water industry’s history, and protecting, maintaining, and preserving water resources for future generations is something we take very seriously. Through our environmental sustainability efforts, the bottled water industry is able to meet consumer demand for good-tasting, safe bottled water products, while managing water collection in a manner that ensures the long-term viability of the watershed.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Just as your tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bottled water is comprehensively regulated by FDA because—unlike the water that comes out of your tap and is used for washing clothes, cleaning dishes, showers, etc.— bottled water is a food product. By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be as protective of the public health as the EPA standards for tap water. (If you want to look it up, here’s the citation for the statute: 21 U.S. Code §349.) FDA must review every new EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) and monitoring requirement


for public drinking water to determine if it should apply to bottled water. FDA has 180 days after the date of each EPA final rule to make that decision. If FDA takes no action, the new EPA standard for tap water will, by operation of law, become applicable to bottled water.

Proponents of tap water have been known to speak ill of bottled water, but the bottled water industry supports strong public water systems. We both have a role to play in providing citizens with clean and safe drinking water. In fact, some IBWA members produce purified bottled water products using water from public water systems. But here’s the important fact to remember: That product is not “just tap water in a bottle.” FDA defines bottled water produced using a municipal source as “purified bottled water.” Once the municipal source water enters the bottled water plant, several processes are employed to ensure that it meets the purified standard of the U.S. Pharmacopeia 23rd Revision. Those treatments can include reverse osmosis, distillation, or de-ionization. The finished water product is then placed in a bottle under sanitary conditions and sold to the consumer. To learn more about this process, review the flowchart on p.28.

One more thing: the bottled water industry does not consider tap water to be our competition. Instead, bottled water competes with other packaged drinks— such as carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks—all of which require far more plastic packaging (at least 167% more plastic) due to carbonation and manufacturing processes.

What about all the wasted plastic?

Take a look inside your refrigerator and pantry, and you’ll notice that bottled water is just one of thousands of food products packaged in 100% recyclable plastic. Even though consumers are drinking more and more bottled water,

the overall amount of plastic used by the industry has decreased due to the light-weighting of plastic bottled water containers. On average, your PET bottled water container weighs just 8.3 grams; a PET soda bottle weighs 22.2 grams. And all bottled water containers are 100% recyclable—and that recycled plastic is in high demand. Manufacturers use recylced plastic to make fiber for carpets and clothes, car parts, and even new bottled water containers.

Doesn’t aluminum packaging have a better environmental footprint?

Of all packaged drinks, bottled water packaging has the smallest environmental footprint. Here’s why: PET water bottles use less than half of the material weight of all other packaging types— including aluminum cans, paperboard cartons, glass, and even PET soda bottles. Lower material usage means less impact from material extraction, manufacturing, and ultimately results in less material entering landfills or needing to be recycled. To view a full comparison of the environmental impact of various packaging options, visit mentalImpactOfDrinkPackaging2021.

Is plastic recyclable like aluminum?

Plastic bottled water containers are 100% recyclable, just like aluminum cans. And, as the National Association of PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) reports, like recycled aluminum, recycled PET can be used over and over to produce new

products, like more recyclable bottled water containers. Known as the most recognized and most recycled containers in curbside programs, bottled water containers make up nearly 49% of all PET plastic beverage containers collected, according to NAPCOR. Bottled water containers should always be recycled, but when they are not, the latest figures available show they make up just 3.3% of all beverage containers that end up in landfills. Waste percentage numbers for other beverage packaging that ends up in landfills are much higher: glass 66.7 percent, aluminum 7.9 percent, and plastic soda bottles 13.3 percent.

Why not just have bottled water for emergencies?

Communities across the United States often experience a time when their public water systems are compromised due to an emergency situation or natural disaster (e.g., hurricanes, floods, tornados, fires, or boil alerts). During such times, bottled water is a necessary and reliable alternative to deliver clean, safe drinking water. The bottled water industry has a proven record of being ready to help when disastrous events occur, and bottled water companies donate millions of gallons of their products every year to help ensure a reliable source of drinking water is available for the public during and after emergencies. But it is important to understand that the bottled water industry is only able to be there so quickly when people need it most because it is a viable and strong market throughout the year. BWR


IBWA CPO Program Overview and Exam Update

IBWA’s Plant Technical Reference Manual (PTRM) is a useful, off-theshelf resource for bottled water facility plant managers, quality assurance staff, and operators. It serves as the primary study materials and basis for the IBWA Certified Plant Operator (CPO) examination, along with the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice (Code). The PTRM is designed to educate your plant operators in every phase of bottled water processing, from source to finished product. To help CPO candidates study for the CPO exam, the PTRM includes background information on topics such as water chemistry, plant sanitation, and federal regulations. An updated PTRM was released to the membership in late

January 2023. The new version of the PTRM improves upon the 2005 edition by including coverage of the following:

• information on IBWA’s CPO program

• updates to regulatory issues, including details about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and its rules

• an enhanced chapter on security programs.

Like the 2005 edition, the current PTRM presents study questions at the end of each chapter to assist members in their CPO exam preparations.

CPO Program Overview

IBWA’s bylaws require that each member facility have on staff an IBWA certified

plant operator. The status of each plant’s CPO is confirmed each year during the IBWA annual plant inspection. The following are frequently asked questions regarding the CPO program.

What is an IBWA Certified Plant Operator?

A CPO is any person who qualifies to operate and maintain by experience, education, and training, the facilities of a bottled water plant. Certification is valid for a period of three years, beginning in the calendar year of the examination date and expiring on December 31 of the following third calendar year. For example, a CPO candidate who passes the exam on May 25, 2022, will be certified until December 31, 2025. A CPO must hold a certificate documenting that he or she has successfully completed and passed the IBWA Certified Plant Operator Final Examination. The exam will cover:

• FDA Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Preventive Controls for Human Foods.

• The risk-based preventive controls system of managing food safety, including source and product sanitation, water treatment technology, product quality, and record keeping. That includes revised Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) regulations and new regulations for preventive controls and food safety plans.

• Bottled water security programs.

• Bottled water treatment and processing.

• Federal health and safety regulations.

• And much more.

Why do I need a CPO at my plant?

A CPO ensures that a production facility is under the supervision of an individual who has demonstrated a proficiency of knowledge in the areas of GMPs, preventive controls, and security, including treatment technologies,


sanitation, and regulatory issues. The certification program promotes training and education, two areas that are vital to ensuring that compliance is met in all phases of production.

Who is eligible to become an IBWA CPO?

Employees of domestic U.S. companies and foreign companies with sales in the United States that are an IBWA Bottler, a Candidate Bottler, a Distributor, and/or a Supplier member are eligible to become a CPO. Employees of affiliate members, employees of foreign companies with no U.S. sales, and persons who are not members of IBWA are not eligible for certification.

Preparing for the CPO Exam

IBWA wants you to succeed in the CPO program. To assist you in preparing for the exam, we offer the following recommendations:

Materials Required for Study The CPO exam is based on information presented in two principal IBWA publications: the Plant Technical Reference Manual and the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice. The questions in the examination were carefully developed to include information from only those two publications.

Important Study Tip To pass the exam, CPO candidates should make a personal commitment of time and effort—scheduling at least 30 days to prepare for the examination.

Registration. The CPO exams are offered online. Exam candidates can register for the exam at https:// If a candidate achieves a passing score on the exam, a Certified Plant Operator certificate will be issued.

How may a CPO maintain current


CPO certification is valid for a

maximum period of three years.

Certification may be renewed in the following ways:

1. A CPO may register for the CPO examination at any time during the third year of certification. OR

2. A CPO may accumulate a minimum of 21 IBWA CEUs (1 CEU for each contact hour of training). The CEUs may be earned by:

• attending IBWA-sponsored educational sessions, such as those provided at the IBWA Annual Business Convention and Trade Show; or

• educational seminars and workshops offered by IBWA and others at the state/regional bottled water association meetings; or

• courses or seminars offered by an accredited college or university; or

• training programs offered by suppliers; or

• formal in-house training programs offered by your company. Training should focus on waterrelated technical and regulatory topics and business-related topics, but it does not need to be limited to bottled water. Please contact IBWA to determine if a training opportunity you are considering will qualify for IBWA CEUs.

CPO Exam Updates on the Horizon

Now that the 2023 revised PTRM is released, IBWA is turning our attention to revising the CPO exam. The IBWA Education Committee discussed timing of the release of a new CPO exam at the October 2022 IBWA Annual Business Conference and decided an updated CPO exam should follow six months after the new manual is released allowing members time to review the material in the new PTRM prior to taking a new CPO exam. The committee also recommended the new CPO exam be broken down into three testing modules


for members instead of a single exam. The modules will be an hour in length, approximately 40-50 questions each, and cover the following content:

• CPO Exam Module #1: Plant Technical Reference Manual

Chapters 1 to 4 and IBWA Code of Practice

• CPO Exam Module #2: Plant Technical Reference Manual

Chapters 5 to 6 and IBWA Code of Practice

• CPO Module #3: Plant Technical Reference Manual Chapters 7 to 12

The module approach breaks the PTRM into sections for members to focus on particular chapters within the manual in preparing to take each module.

Next Steps

Along with the CPO exam revisions, IBWA is transitioning to a third-party proctor. A third-party proctor will allow future flexibility for members to schedule the exam at their own convenience. Following successfully passing all three modules, IBWA will issue each new CPO their certificate. Changes are also being made to the registration experience to streamline the process and allow for more than one member to be registered for the exam at a time. Look for the new CPO exam to be available this August. Please reach out to Claire Crane ( or Al Lear ( with any questions. BWR

SPRING 2023 • BWR • 25

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 as a PDF to IBWA VP –Science, Education and Technical Relations Al Lear ( Look for additional quizzes in future issues and earn additional IBWA CEUs!

Name Company Address City State/Province ZIP/Postal Code

Check your selection for each question

1|The revised version of the Plant Technical Reference Manual was released in January 2023.

O True

O False

2|Municipal (public) drinking water is commonly used by water bottlers as a source for _____. (select ALL that apply)

O Spring water O Purified water O Well water O Drinking water

3|CPO stands for which of the following:

Certified Public Operator

Certified Plant Operator O Certified Plant Overseer O Certified Private Operator

4|The measure of hydroxyl and hydrogen ions in solution in water is called _____.





5|How many modules will the updated CPO exam have:

6|In general, hardness in water is attributable to the presence of _____ and _____. [select two (2)]

O Calcium

O Sodium

O Antimony

O Magnesium

7|The CPO exam study materials are _______: O Standard Methods O Food Code O OSHA O IBWA PTRM and Code of Practice

8|_____ is the preferred material for tank truck construction. O Iron

O Polycarbonate

O Stainless steel O Aluminum

9|An IBWA CPO must receive 21 CEUs over three years to maintain their certificate.

O True

O False

10|Potential sources of disagreeable taste or odor in bottled are ________________:

O Amine tastes from anion resins used in ion exchangers.

O Build-up of slime or organic material in tanks

O Inadequate flushing of certain cartridge-type filters

O All of the above.

O 6 O 3 O 10



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——contact Stephanie Reyna: or 817.719.6197.


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] • APRIL 26-29 NWBWA Convention The Coeur d'Alene Golf and Spa Resort Coeur d'Alene, ID • MAY 10-12 Affiliated States Bottled Water Association Conference and Product Fair Grand Hyatt San Antonio, TX • JUNE 5-8 IBWA Board of Directors and Committee Meetings Hilton Alexandria Old Town Alexandria, VA • SEPTEMBER 11-14 IBWA Annual Business Conference and Trade Show Las Vegas, NV (in conjunction with PACK EXPO)
Blackhawk Molding Co. Inside Front Cover Brio Water Technology Outside Back Cover Pleass Global Limited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Back Cover Polymer Solutions Int'l . . . . . . . 3 Sigma Home Products Co., Ltd. . . . . . . . . . . 27 SPRING 2023 • BWR • 27


The images here can help you explain to consumers, family, and friends some of the bottled water facts from this issue’s Communications column (p.22).

Of all water used in the U.S., bottled water production uses an extremely small amount: just 0.01%.

Soft drink plastic containers weigh, on average, 167% more than plastic bottled water containers.

22.2 GRAMS


Sources: USGS Water Use Data, 2015 (latest available) and Beverage Marketing Corporation

Purified Bottled Water: Not Just Tap Water In a Bottle

Drink Packaging in U.S. Landfills Bottled water containers should always be recycled, but when they are not, they make up just 3.3% of all beverage containers that end up in landfills.

Sources: Consumer Recycling Institute, Beverage Marketing Corporation, National Association for PET Container Resources

28 • BWR • WWW.BOTTLEDWATER.ORG Aseptic Box 0.5% Foil Pouch 0.1% PET Bottled Water 3.3% Gable Top Carton 3.5% HDPE 4.7% Aluminum 7.9% PET Soda Bottles 13.3% Glass 66.7%
Innovation. Passion. Service. 1 (800) 781-1680 BRIOWT.COM | SALES@BRIOWT.COM PRSRT STD US POSTAGE PAID DULLES VA PERMIT 299
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