One of the recurring myths promulgated by the bottled water industry is that it’s not in competition with tap water – that they don’t disparage the quality of tap, and instead sell against sugared drinks.
We’ve rebutted that little contention multiple times on our tiny little blog (Nestle Waters of North America CEO Kim Jeffries did al the heavy lifting for us), but – with the industry reeling under declining sales – the attacks were bound to become more contentious.
A British water bottler recently took out a 20-page magazine advertisement (not a typo, that’s 20 pages) that featured industry scare-mongering at its finest:Bottle vs tap grudge match hots up – Times Online
Yet last month Hildon lost its cool and took a 20-page trade magazine advertisement attacking tap water. On one page under the headline “Is it safe?” it wrote: “Cancer drugs found in tap water”, adding further down: “Is there anything else they are not telling us?”
Some thought is was over the top. Sue Pennison at the Drinking Water Inspectorate described the ad as “scare-mongering”. “If they have concerns, they should bring them to us,” she said.
Hildon’s outburst may have been extreme but it is not isolated – the bottled-water industry is under siege. Environmentalists have been saying for years that the £1.5 billion-a-year business is an eco-catastrophe, creating millions of tonnes of emissions and plastic to contain, transport and sell something that flows freely out of the tap. Phil Woolas, a former environment minister, has labelled it “immoral”.