It hasn’t been a great year for Nestle PR Operative John Challinor, who’s seen setback after setback in Canada – where municipalities are banning bottled-water sales on city property.
Rather than waltz in, threaten a few jobs, and then misdirect the conversation towards the evils of sugary drinks, Challinor’s been running into opinion articles like this:
Councillors were unanimous in their enthusiasm for a ban once problems are resolved, and asked staff for a report by fall on how to do it. Some asked, why go after water bottles only? Why not plastic pop and juice bottles? Staff replied, “You can’t turn on a tap and get orange juice or pop. It’s a beginning.”
Less enthusiastic — downright opposed, actually — was former Milton councillor John Challinor, now Nestle Waters Canada’s PR man, who has been travelling the country trying to allay ever-mounting municipal concern. He raised the health and safety issue of disallowing police, fire, and ambulance personnel the use of bottled water. Drinking fountains and refillable bottles aren’t practical or sanitary, he said, and referred to the committee’s stance as “nothing more than greenwashing, environmental symbolism, and bad public policy.” (Nestle’s PTTW cost $3,000 for processing fee, and $3.71 per MILLION litres extracted.)
Challinor said most Canadians would take a dim view in these hard economic times of impacting on industry employees “for no good reason.”
Let’s cite some. How about millions of litres of groundwater pumped from underground aquifers, interfering with groundwater flow. How about huge costs, and greenhouse gas emissions, of producing and shipping to distant store shelves — I’ve seen Ontario water in Arizona.
Councillor Rick Craven cited a figure of 250 times the energy to produce bottled water over municipal water, and Peter Thoem thought staff was being too timid in its recommendation.
It goes on, but suffice it to say that Nestle has suffered significant reversals in Canada, and while they like to pretend that such setbacks are minor, the cumulative effect is becoming significant.