Nestlé’s Extraction of Water for Profit is Rejected By Both Consumers and Communities
Concerned with the health of their local groundwater supply, environments and economies, communities across the country are successfully challenging Nestlé's aggressive efforts to expand its water bottling operations, according to a new report by Food & Water Watch, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization.
"Nestlé is paying next to nothing - pennies per gallon - to pump thousands or, in many cases, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day out of rural communities. Then, it turns around and bottles the water for billions of dollars in profits," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "But that's not all. The company is using oil to make the plastic bottles, millions of which end up in landfills or in incinerators that produce toxic gas and ashes. Essentially, Nestlé is dumping the environmental costs of its profits onto society."
The report, "All Bottled Up: Nestlé's Pursuit of Community Water," looks at the growing citizen backlash against Nestlé's aims to expand its water extraction and against bottled water in general. Case studies of McCloud, Calif., Mecosta County, Mich., Wells, Maine and several other places reveal how the company typically tries to take water, the consequences and how residents are organizing to turn back the transnational titan.
Furthermore, the report highlights Nestlé's frustration with citizen efforts and with the slowdown in the growth of bottled water sales. For example, Nestlé produced an online video reaction to the documentary film, FLOW: For the Love of Water, which contextualizes the role of bottled water in the growing world water crisis. Before releasing its video, Nestlé sent representatives to debate anti-bottled water organizers who were educating citizens at Fall 2008 screenings of FLOW.
"Nestlé's tactics are symptomatic of an apparent trend among water bottlers to defend the need for their products," noted Hauter. "A coalition of industry interests has also surfaced recently to counter consumers' growing return to tap water. Its website, enjoybottledwater.org perpetuates the myth that bottled water is somehow purer or better than tap water." Other findings of "All Bottled Up: Nestlé's Pursuit of Community Water," include:
-Nestlé profits off of water that it gets for little money. Had public pressure not pushed Nestlé to pull out of one proposed project, the company could have sold the bottled water product for more than 127 thousand times its water extraction investment.
-The company refuses to listen to citizens who don't want their water taken. For example, in Maine, the town of Shapleigh denied Nestlé permission to take water. However, residents fear that the company, which already removes hundreds of millions of gallons of groundwater from the state each year, may now try to get the water from elsewhere.
-Nestlé contributes to the pollution associated with plastic bottle production. Nestlé's brands may be responsible for hundreds of millions of plastic bottles in landfills.
All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water
28 page PDF File
Kate Fried - January 14, 2009 - source FoodAndWaterWatch
CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
Kate Fried - Food & Water Watch (202) 683-2500