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If "carbon neutral" is claimed to be achieved by offsetting emissions by contributing to so-called "clean development" projects, this is mostly a delusion. Those projects do not decrease emissions. At best they reduce emissions in comparison to a business as usual scenario. Moreover, those projects increase industrial activity and economic growth, which in their own right increase greenhous gas emissions and resource depletion.
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Call for cap on bottled water useBy Jenny Wiggins in London, Financial Times 17 Sept. 2007, page 6. (Copyright notice) NEWS ANALYSIS Questions are being raised about the environmental cost of drinking fromdisposable palstic containers, writes Jenny Wiggins
It was not so long ago that asking a waiter for bottled water in a US or British restaurant was considered pretentious.
Today bottled water is so prevalent – in offices, coffee shops, supermarkets and homes – that a request for tap water is likely to cause more embarrassment.
Over the past decade, global consumption of bottled water has soared to 180bn litres a year, from 78bn litres a decade ago, according to Zenith International, consultants to the food and drinks industry. However, questions are now being asked about the environmental costs of packaging this volume of water in disposable plastic containers.
In the US, the world’s biggest market for bottled water, city governments have started banning bottled water dispensers from their offices, with some switching to filtered water systems. About 40 per cent of bottled water sold in the US, including Aquafina and Dasani, is purified tap water.
They say that the plastic used to package water is a waste of oil, while low recycling rates mean plastic bottles end up in landfill, leaching chemicals into the soil over the hundreds of years they take to degrade. Officials also claim oil is wasted transporting bottled water and that marketing by the industry leads low-income consumers to believe that bottled water is better than tap water.
The Container Recycling Institute, a non-profit organisation, estimates that less than 20 per cent of non-carbonated drink bottles were recycled in 2005, and that some 2m tons of PET bottles, which are made from petroleum, were thrown away instead of being recycled.
Meanwhile, pressure groups have been urging consumers to stop drinking bottled water.
Food and Water Watch is running an online pledge, encouraging people to "take back the tap" and sign a petition calling on Congress to create a trust fund for public water. Corporate Accountability International is asking people to "think outside the bottle".
Companies that make filtered water systems and reusable steel or plastic have been taking advantage of the backlash, with filter group Brita teaming up with bottle manufacturer Nalgene to create a website called "Filter for Good" where visitors are asked to switch to reusable water bottles.
The campaigns have un-settled the bottling industry. But the International Bottled Water Association says discouraging people from drinking bottled water may lead them to drink less-healthy beverages and companies are feeling unfairly targeted. Joseph Doss, president and chief executive of the body, says: "Any action that would discourage consumers from drinking a healthy beverage like bottled water is not in the public interest."
Nevertheless, the association is planning to undertake a trial recycling programme in four US cities.
Some analysts are sceptical that bottled water sales will be hurt by the recent backlash. And it does not yet appear to be hurting corporate profits.
Nestlé, the world’s biggest bottled water company and the owner of the Perrier and Vittel brands, said that global sales of bottled water rose more than 10 per cent in the first half of the year.
Still, bottled water companies have begun taking steps to prove they care about the environment. Icelandic Glacial, which recently signed a distribution agreement with brewing group Anheuser Busch in the US, recently became the first bottled water company to be certified as "carbon neutral", while Coca-Cola is building a plastic recycling plant.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
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