We love our water. Some people's favourite water is even comes bottled from the other side of the planet.
Bottled water brands like Perrier and San Pellegrino are popular choices with water connoisseurs. Both of these carbonated water brands happen to be owned by Nestlé. The global food company, which has its headquarters in Switzerland, is in a number of different food business sectors. The Nestlé name can be found on baby foods, cereals, chocolates, candy products, coffee, dairy products, ice cream, pet care products and more.
Perrier is bottled in France, while San Pellegrino is bottled in Italy. Both companies are producing in the neighbourhood of a billion bottles a year for distribution around the world.
There are other big companies in the bottled water business. Coca Cola has a number of water brands, including Dasani while PepsiCo's big seller is Aquafina.
The big players all have their own strategies for success. Some companies have one source from which they serve the world and others have numerous sources with bottling plants that serve regional areas.
The bottled water industry is also dotted with smaller players like Whistler Water. The Whistler Water website indicates the bottled water company is "locally owned and operated" and led by the same ownership team that runs Grouse Mountain.
The bottled Whistler water comes from the Place Glacier near Birken. Inside a Burnaby plant the glacier water is put into bottles so Whistler Water doesn't travel nearly as far as Perrier or San Pellegrino before the top is removed and a consumer drinks it here. Despite that, for someone drinking Whistler Water in Whistler, the contents of the bottle have travelled from Birken, through Whistler to Burnaby for bottling then back to Whistler for consumption.
Groups like the Canadian Bottled Water Association (CBWA) and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) have created websites that describe the positive benefits of bottled water. The association smartly points out that bottled water works well in large-scale emergency situations in locations where drinking water systems are compromised. Examples include the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. The associations also point out that many people choose bottled water as a healthier choice over soft drinks.
However, we often hear that water bottles are choking our landfills. But according to the CBWA, 70 per cent of the bottles produced in Canada to hold water are recycled.
"Plastic beverage containers, including bottled water packaging, account for 1/5 of one per cent of the waste in the waste stream," insists the CBWA on its website.
Yes, bottled water has its place and many people love the convenience of drinking water from a bottle. This is clearly demonstrated in the IBWA claim that in 2011 the industry produced about $109.8 billion in output.
Consumers have spoken. Paying $2 for a litre and a half is a reasonable price to bottled water buyers.
Water falls from the sky in Whistler in amounts ranging anywhere from 48mm a month in July and August, to 138mm a month in October, according to Environment Canada. On Jan. 7, 1983 a record 79mm of rain dropped on the resort. With the vast amount of water Whistler is blessed with, there isn't a shortage of locally available water in the resort.
Despite this we import a significant amount of water in bottles.
Some food vendors ahead of the curve are saying no to serving bottled water in their restaurants. A trend looks to be forming as more restaurant operators choose filtration systems that transform Whistler's municipally provided water into products that rival spring water from France, mineral water from Italy or glacier water from Birken.
Restaurants and hotels in Whistler that have installed filtration systems report the quality of the final product is great, and the savings are impressive. One restaurant reportedly recouped its investment within weeks of installing a filtration system. A number of Whistler businesses are using purification systems and bottling their own water in reusable containers that stay in-house. Look for more food and beverage operators to do the same in the future as the economics of importing bottled water becomes more and more difficult to justify as consumers choose, as coined by the District of Squamish, to "take back the tap" and drink water captured at home because it just makes sense in a number of ways.
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