Last update: 12-Dec-2013 4:50 am
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
As global water crisis brews
As the earth’s population booms, the world’s finite water supply has come under scrutiny by the United Nations. Governments across the world are now engaged in water management as the UN predicts that in the next 12 years, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under the stress of water scarcity.
In T&T, bottled water sales have almost doubled within the last decade, according to president of the Supermarkets Association Vernon Persad. He said this boom has been the result of the perception of quality and the low price of water. However, with this boom comes concern that plastic bottles pose serious risk to the environment.
Persad said T&T’s population has become more health conscious, triggering fierce competition among water bottling companies. Dasani, a brand of the Coca-Cola Company, is marketing its “Twist for good” campaign to motivate people to help protect the planet.
Blue Mountain Water, bottled by Premium Products of Guaico, states “We support Conservation” on its label. Blue Waters, one of the most popular brands locally, uses 40 per cent less plastic per case than when it was first introduced. Oasis water, bottled by SM Jaleel, is touted as the only local bottled water that is a member of the International Bottled Water Association, a worldwide body which regulates and ensures water is safe, properly labelled and passes all inspection requirements from the US Food and Drug Administration.
However, Persad said even though bottled water sales have spiked, corporate T&T and the Government must introduce proactive campaigns to conserve and protect water resources.
He said the Beverage Container Bill (2012) is expected to be brought to Parliament soon to regulate the recycling of plastic bottles. The bill provides for establishment of the Beverage Containers Advisory Board, a deposit-and-refund system for prescribed sizes of beverage containers and a regime for the collection of beverage containers to reduce their disposal into the environment, thereby alleviating the pollution problem.
Persad said this is a step in the right direction. He commended Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh who launched WASA’s Adopt a River (AAR) programme in July at Lee King Quarry in Valencia. At the time, Singh said millions of dollars are spent to transform raw water supplies to potable quality that meets World Health Organization guidelines. He said this cost can be reduced, if citizens think twice before polluting the environment.
Several retailers in south Trinidad said sales have of bottled water have increased. “Water bottlers have reduced their price, so people from lower income brackets can afford water now,” a supervisor of JTA Supermarket said. The perception of better quality has been a driving force. However, disposal of plastic bottles remain a concern.
Water bottlers respond
Several officials from the water bottling industry said environmental consciousness has been a key focus of their companies. Maritza Ballack, marketing activation manager at Coca Cola of T&T, said its Dasani brand has been flourishing in T&T. “We recently launched the Dasani ‘Twist for good,’ a campaign that seeks to motivate people to help protect the planet through small actions that generate important changes in favour of the community, in this case through the adequate recycling of PET,” Ballack said.
“Dasani wants to help develop a movement that inspires many people to carry on small actions, because we know that together we can change the perception over PET material, as it must not be seen as waste, but as a valuable resource for the elaboration of useful products.”
Ballack said Dasani is experiencing growth with its more affordable and environmentally-friendly plant bottle. “We received a good acceptance from our consumers who respond to our invitation on the Twist for good campaign, feeling such a great passion for the planet that make them moved to help protect it. Dasani has always tried to help to create a positive and tangible difference in the community and our message of the small changes we make in our lives make big differences in the world was very well received,” she said.
“We have gained share of market and seen an increase in our volumes. Also we have been able to connect with consumers on the benefits for the environment of choosing Dasani plant bottle and we have been able to use this campaign as a building block for recycling efforts locally.” Ballack said her company’s aim is to provide an option to consumers to right away give back to the environment .“In these conscious days, water makes a great contribution to overall hydration.
“Also, with the development of more widespread leisure and activities and the expansion of travel, for business and pleasure, consumers are increasingly turning to the convenience and safety of bottled water for their refreshment,” Ballack said. Managing director of Blue Waters Dominic Hadeed said even though Dasani boasts that they are environmentally friendly, his company’s carbon footprint is lower.
“When compared to every other beverage option available today in T&T by our direct competitors, Blue Waters has the smallest environmental footprint. Added to this, we have recently planted almost 30,000 coconut trees around our factory, no other beverage company in Trinidad has ever planted 30,000 trees and we all know that the more trees there are in this world, the better for the environment,” he said. He said Dasani uses an imported preform, while Blue Waters injects preforms locally.
“This means from a freight environmental footprint, Blue Waters’ carbon footprint is lower,” he said. Hadeed said while other companies use a tray to support their case, Blue Waters uses a pad, which is better for the environment and a paper label, which is biodegradable. “As a whole, even though Dasani uses only a small percentage less plastic per bottle than we do, their overall environmental damage is more than ours.” Hadeed claimed.
He admitted that Blue Waters has not been vocal about its contributions to the environment. “We have consistently been reducing the amount of plastics in our packages over the years and on average as a company use 40 per cent less plastic per case than when were first started. We saw it as the right thing to do and not make a PR campaign about it.
“We are also the largest player in the five gallon returnable package, which is the most eco friendly of all water bottles, so if people wanted to help the environment, they should switch to buying more of our five gallon returnable bottles,” Hadeed said.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.