Category Archives: Canada

“The public trust is washing away faster than water can flow out of one of your bottles” (Nestle Waters Accused of Poor Public Process)

Once again, Nestle Waters finds itself accused of poor public process – this time Nestle Waters of Canada is charged with hiding plans for a backup well from citizens. From the Wellington Advertiser:

The company announced its new plans for a well on Gil­mour Road at a public information session on Nov. 3 at Springfield Golf and Country Club on Gordon Street.

Yet several councillors took exception to advertising for the event, as well as letters sent to Gilmour Road residents, neither of which mentioned the plans for a secondary well. They say if that information was included, far more than a dozen people would have at­tended that meeting.

“The public trust is washing away faster than water can flow out of one of your bottles,” councillor Matthew Bul­mer said sternly. He agreed with fellow councillor Susan Fielding the ads were very “am­biguous” and said the letters to residents were even less helpful.

Letters were sent to Gil­mour Road residents the day before the meeting and neither the township nor the members of the newly established well protection committee – Bulmer, resident Dianne Paron, and Alan Dale of the Grand River Conservation Authority – were among the recipients.

“I’m concerned you’re trying to wiggle out of a very basic responsibility,” Bulmer said.

That Nestle stands accused of trying to sneak one past residents isn’t exactly news; they’ve been accused of the same thing in McCloud, Fryeburg, Sacramento, Mecosta County (MI), Florida, Wells/Kennebunk (ME), parts of Canada, and a whole host of other places.

While Nestle’s “good corporate citizen” routine is a regular part of its act, a closer look at the company’s actions belies the claim.

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New Report Outlines Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water (and Profits)

Nestle’s treatment of rural communities won’t qualify them for any “good neighbor” awards anytime soon – a sad fact chronicled in a new Food & Water Watch report on water extraction activities in North America.

From their site:

Food & Water Watch’s report, “All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water,” reveals the loss  communities experience when a plant shows up in a small town.

Consider that…

Bottled water is overpriced, it’s no purer or safer than tap water, Nestlé is profiting off of communities and their precious resource — groundwater, and water bottles end up — by the millions — as worthless trash.

Did you know that…

Nestle takes the groundwater for next to nothing and makes extraordinary profits from the community’s loss? Communities are taking on the food giant — AND WINNING. Empty Nestlé bottles are piling up in landfills? Communities are getting smart about Nestlé and passing legislation to stop harmful water extraction from their towns?

Food & Water Watch and activists favor the efforts of policymakers to…

Develop comprehensive groundwater protection and conservation laws and regulation, require labels about the sources of bottled water and contaminants, adress environmental harm from producing bottled water and disposal of empty bottles, and assist residents and communities in protecting their groundwater from Nestlé.

Read more at: All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water — Food & Water Watch.

Nestle Waters Canada Accused of Misleading Readers in Opinion Piece

This is rich stuff. Those familiar with Nestle’s desperate attempts to avert municipal bottled water bans in Canada will know of spokesperson’s John Challinor’s repeated assertions that 60% of Nestle’s plastic water bottles are recycled.

In a response to that assertion, a Guelph (Canada) resident points out that 60% of the bottles aren’t recycled – Nestle’s simply misleading readers.

Instead, he suggests the 60% figure tossed around by Nestle refers to the percentage of people who have access to recycling – not the percentage of bottles actually recycled.

If true, StopNestleWaters.org is shocked (shocked!) at the misinformation provided by Nestle’s spinmeisters.

Shocked.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Editor – Re: “Nestlé extensively tests its water supply” letter to the editor, Jan. 19.

John Challinor, Nestlé Waters Canada’s director of corporate affairs, conveniently attempts to dismiss the public’s concern over plastic water bottle pollution by merely tossing around misleading statistics.

First, please note that the 60 per cent figure reflecting access to recycling is not the same as a percentage figure showing the percentage of Nestlé water bottles sold that are actually recycled.

Second, note that the 60 per cent figure also reflects the fact that 40 per cent of Canadians do not even have access to recycling were they even inclined to do so.

Third, the Stewardship Ontario statistic used does not actually mean that very few Nestlé water bottles end up polluting the environment. Indeed, it could be taken as reflecting the fact that most of the bottles sold to the public actually do not end up back into the home where municipalities can deal with them, the bottles being tossed elsewhere in the environment.

My point is simply that if you walk the Canadian trails I walk, if you fish on Canadian rivers after spring runoff, if you visit the lake shores of Canada, or if you walk with me along the ditches that line some of our Canadian roadways, you will get the strong impression there are even more than 650 million water bottles to worry about, no matter what the Nestlé’s corporate affairs department says about their belief that their plastic water bottles are only a convenience, not a problem. I see them on the ground nearly everywhere I go.

If I were to defend Nestlé, I could go no further than to point out their use of plastic water bottles is only part of the problem. The fact that they sell them to people is also the problem. The plastic water bottle’s availability is the problem.

It just happens that the name Nestlé is showing up on our trails and shorelines and roadways like a bad billboard.

They are innocent. Or are they?

I am disappointed they are not helping us all find a solution to the problem.

See Nestle’s Infamous Greenwashing Ad (Don’t Stare, It’s Not Polite)

The now-infamous Nestle greenwashing ad we’ve repeatedly referenced was put up for display at the Greenwise blog, and we’ve posted a slightly smaller version:

In an astonishing feat of marketing engineering, the ad represents Nestle’s bottled water as the “most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world,” putting Nestle firmly in the same hyper-marketed realm as “clean coal” and “earn millions from home over the Internet.”

Don’t look so astonished – this is the same “good corporate citizen” who sues small towns, negotiates contracts in secret, and loses very, very ungracefully. This isn’t much of a stretch.

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Toronto Passes Bottled Water Ban by Sizable Margin in Face of Intensive Nestle PR/Lobbying Effort

Toronto joined a fast-growing club of Canadian towns which have put an end to city purchasing of bottled water and the sale of bottled water in city facilities:

The Toroonto Star: City council passes bag fee and bottle ban

And despite a determined lobby from bottled water companies to block the measure, councillors voted to ban the sale or distribution of bottled water immediately at City Hall and the city’s civic centres where contracts permit.

Bottled water at other city-owned facilities such as arenas and theatres will be banned by the end of 2011.

The final vote wasn’t close: 30 in favour of the bag and bottle measures, and 13 against.

We reported on the bottled water industry’s increasingly desperate lobbying efforts in a prior post, including the publication of an ad lauding bottled water as the “the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world” – a claim that prompted the filing of several misleading advertising claims.

Sadly, Toronto’s experience with Nestle Waters of North America mirror those of so many others; the city asked the companies for packaging alternatives more than year in advance, and got stonewalled in return – until the specter of an effective ban loomed.

In that situation, the water bottlers reacted predictably – misleading PR campaigns, last-minute lobbying efforts at the highest levels, etc:

But bottled water companies lobbied councillors hard throughout the meeting to try to amend the bottled water ban. Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) acted the role of go-between, repeatedly shuttling between water lobbyists in the public gallery and councillors on the chamber floor, trying to sell a compromise deal that ultimately failed.

Miller said he the level of lobbying was high, but said it was the timing that disturbed him most.

City officials had asked industry players for their ideas on reducing packaging a year or more ago, he said, and met a wall of resistance.

“We asked for data, we asked for partnership, we asked for ideas. And it wasn’t until our staff brought forward a comprehensive report that we saw any movement,” he said.

If Nestle was the good corporate citizen it claims to be in its greenwashed citizenship report (published uncritictaly here – read the comments below the post for an interesting perspective on Nestle’s “citizenship”), it would have responded to the community’s questions about waste and the undermining of municipal water supplies instead of firing a barrage from its PR & lobbying artillery.

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Nestle Ad Claims “Bottled Water Most Environmentally Responsible Consumer Product in the World.”

The bottled water backlash has forced Nestle to defend its largely indefensible practices in increasingly aggressive terms, but even we’re surprised at the latest.

Threats of legal action (Miami-Dade) and an aggressive, misleading PR campaign are considered de riguer for the world’s largest food & beverage company, but claiming “Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world” makes even the most cynical jaws drop here at StopNestleWaters.org.

Fortunately, it’s not just us – a coalition of Canadian groups has filed a complaint against Nestle for its recent ad, which clearly takes greenwash to dizzying new heights.

From the CBC News site: Nestlé bottled-water ads misleading, environmentalists say

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a complaint against Nestlé, alleging its advertisement claiming that bottled water is “environmentally responsible” is misleading.

Friends of the Earth Canada, the Polaris Institute, the Council of Canadians, Wellington Water Watchers and Ecojustice filed a complaint against Nestlé Waters North America with the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards on Monday.

The complaint was filed after Nestlé published an advertisement in the Globe and Mail in October that included the such statements as:

* “Most water bottles avoid landfill sites and are recycled.”
* “Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world.”
* “Nestlé Pure Life is a healthy, eco-friendly choice.”

Meera Karunananthan, a spokeswoman for the Council of Canadians, said the ad violates standards of honesty and accuracy.

“For Nestlé to claim that its bottled water product is environmentally superior to any other consumer product in the world is not supportable,” Karunananthan said in a release.

The idea that packaging (in plastic) water and shipping it (in fuel-hungry trucks) to distant locations is somehow environmentally responsible truly transcends normal marketing practices – placing Nestle’s efforts in truly Orwellian territory.

And yes, you can be sure we’ll be following this one.

Stop Nestle Now, TC.

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Nestle Desperately Trying to Reverse Canadian Water Bans

Nestle Waters – and the entire bottled water industry – have suffered a devastating series of setbacks in Canada as one municipality after another institutes bottled water purchasing bans.

Designed to save taxpayer dollars, reduce the stream of plastic flowing into landfills, and boost confidence in municipal water systems, Canada’s bottled water bans are causing Nestle’s operatives to break out in a rash.

Spokesman John Challinor has appeared all over Canada, repeating Nestle’s mantra that bottled water competes with sugared drinks – an assertion they often make, but never prove.

Challinor’s efforts are taking on an almost desperate tone – witness this story from the Toronto Star:

Let’s make a deal on bottled water, firms tell city

Intensive lobbying is continuing over Toronto’s proposals to curb packaging waste, from water bottles to shopping bags, in advance of Monday’s city council meeting.

The mayor’s office has turned down pleas from the bottled-water industry to rescind a proposal to ban bottled water from city buildings as of December 2011.

In return for allowing bottled water in civic buildings beyond 2011, the industry is offering to mount a pilot program in a dozen Toronto locations to boost recycling of bottles, cans and paper.

The companies would also pay for a public education campaign on recycling, and commit to reducing the plastic content of their bottles before 2011 by 10 to 15 per cent.

Challinor said Rathbone relayed the proposal to the mayor’s office, where it was rejected. But the bottlers haven’t given up.

“We’re talking to all members of council today and through the weekend,” he said, in hopes of finding sympathetic councillors to raise the offer on Monday.

At StopNestleWaters.org, we’re going to take an ongoing look at the bottled water industry’s attempts to get its feet back under it – both directly, and through proxies.

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Nestle Facing Another Ban in Canada: Says Better to Create Plastic Waste Instead

Nestle’s water bottling operation has been desperately fighting municipal bans on the purchase of bottled water all over Canada, and the latest challenge comes from Guelph – the site of a very controversial Nestle water mining operation.

What’s remarkable about Nestle’s attempts to forestall a ban is that their odd contention that everyone’s better off by creating plastic waste in the form of a bottle, and then recycling some of the bottles.

From the GuelphMercury.com

The City of Guelph is considering banning bottled water in all city facilities.

A city committee discussed a plan last week that would make municipal tap water accessible to all city staff and the public inside its facilities, as well as at community events.

Mayor Karen Farbridge said employees would be provided with refillable canisters.

At the Sleeman Centre, where the city offers bottled water for sale as well as pop and juice, Farbridge said, they have asked staff to see whether there’s a way to work with the private sector to reduce waste.

Nestlé Waters Canada was present at the community development and environmental services committee to voice their opposition to the city wanting to phase out bottled water.

Instead, Nestlé spokesperson John Callinor said he wanted the city to come on board with its concept of a Public Spaces pilot program. Along with its partners, Nestlé entered into a $7.2-million agreement in June with the government of Quebec to collect and recycle plastic beverage containers and other recyclable materials.

“Don’t replace our bottled water with freely available, high-quality, low-cost-to-taxpayers tap water,” Nestle’s spokesman seems to be saying. “Buy bottled, and together, we’ll recycle some of the bottles later.”

In a market where consumers are fast becoming aware of the environmental emptiness of bottled water, Nestle’s arguments in favor of its products grow more convoluted by the day.

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Globe and Mail Editorial In Favor of Bottled Water Bans

From an editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail (online edition):

Toronto — A 25-cent deposit on plastic bottled-water bottles might put a tiny dent in the vast quantity that ends up in city dumps (Firm Introduces 25-Cent Deposit To Combat Water-Bottle Litter – Oct. 2). But it doesn’t address the more fundamental reasons why municipalities and school boards across Canada are banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities with adequate drinking fountains. Our councillors and school trustees recognize that it doesn’t make any sense to promote or facilitate the sale of a substance that costs pennies a litre out of the tap.

This is not about freedom of choice. It is about discouraging a bad lifestyle. People are slowly realizing the world does not need bottled water, and our schools and town councils are right to ban it.

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Up is Down, and Garbage is Good When You’re a Canadian Water Bottler

With bottled water coming under fire for its expense and environmentally-unfriendly nature, convincing consumers that bottled water is a good idea becomes a harder sell every day.

This rather brilliant article by Kevin Baker of the Financial Post takes a smart look at the convoluted machinations of a bottled water industry trade group trying to spin the recent bottled water bans in Canada:

After London banned sales of bottled water on city property, Refreshments Canada, voice of the non-alcoholic beverages industry, issued a defence of the vilified drink — a “healthy, practical hydration option.”

The city would come to regret its decision, Refreshments Canada prophesied: “London residents will look back on [the ban] as a real missed opportunity to do something positive for the environment.” London had thrown away “a chance to expand recycling.”

According to this logic, drinking municipal tap water is bad for the environment because it does not add an empty bottle to the recycling stream.

In the bottle water industry, up is apparently still down, and trash is somehow good for the environment.

As I noted in my post on the London, Ontario bottled water ban, Nestle is a prime player in Canada’s water extraction market, and its representative spoke out against the ban, labeling it “greenwash.” Given Nestle’s attempts to greenwash their own contribution to the waste stream, I find it an amusing contrast.

The Financial Post’s Baker goes on to savage the recent introduction of a bottled water brand aimed specifically at children (huh?), and overall, the article’s an excellent read – worth 60 seconds of your day.

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London, Ontario Bans Bottled Water Sales on City Property: Movement Set to Grow?

In a move that must have ruined the mornings of bottled water executives all across North America, the city of London, Ontario (Canada) banned bottled water sales on city property.

The critical issue here isn’t the ban; it’s the industry’s response. But more on that in a second. First, the story:

A decision by the largest Canadian city yet to ban bottled water could see a tide of other cities making the same move, says a city councilor leading the push to get rid of bottles here in Vancouver.

Citing environmental concerns and a need to promote city tap water, the city council in London, Ont., voted this week to ban bottled water from its properties.

“I think this is going to continue right across the country,” said Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson.

Staff at the City of Vancouver have also been looking at ways of eliminating the sale of bottled water and increasing the number of drinking fountains around the city.

How does Nestle Water of Canada respond? In a statement so ironic it’s gained instant “Hall of Fame” status here at StopNestleWaters.org, their spokesperson called it “greenwashing.”

But one industry rep says a ban in Vancouver would be political “green washing.”

“It’s quite frankly environmental symbolism and it doesn’t result in meaningful progress in terms of the environment or health,” said John Challinor, director of corporate affairs for Nestle Waters Canada, which holds a 35-per-cent share in the Canadian bottled water market.

It’s tempting to write Challinor off as simply a paid corporate flack, but his statement is worth examining.

After all, there are few bigger experts on greenwashing than a Nestle executive, and we tend to agree that London’s ban hasn’t really resulted in the kind of “meaningful progress in terms of the environment or health” we’d like to see.

What would constitute meaningful progress?

How about municipal bans on bottled water purchases across North America?

Now that – my dear readers – is exactly the kind of progress Mr. Challinor was no doubt referring to.

After all, buying bottled water is a wasteful use of taxpayer money, especially when the stuff runs largely for free out of the tap, and taxpayer dollars typically subsidize landfill operations – where anywhere from 75%-85% of Nestle’s plastic bottles end up.

We’d like to thank Mr. Challinor for his unique insight. With any luck, we’ll see more “meaningful progress” soon.

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