Kentucky is home to seven commercial bottled water facilities, and it is estimated that Kentuckians consume more than 170 million gallons of bottled water annually. While Kentucky’s public water systems produce high-quality water at low costs for our citizens, often individuals choose to drink bottled water because of its convenience or their personal preference. In spite of this demand for bottled water products, over the past few years, the bottled water industry has seen a decline in sales due to consumers disliking the amount of waste that occurs from the disposal and recent reports that PCBs in plastic bottles may be carcinogenic. Researchers are forecasting an annual growth below 1 percent over the next five years. This is a significant reduction from the exaggerated rates seen from 2000-08.
So in an effort to increase future projections, developers for PepsiCo released a high-profile bottle Labeled Eco-Fina, which is used for their Aquafina brand. With each bottle weighing less than 11 grams, the 500mL 24-pack uses 50 percent less plastic, saving an estimated 75 million pounds of plastic per year. The vice president of packaging innovation and development at PepsiCo stated they reached their desired objective of a sustainable design of product that is much better for the environment. The PepsiCo company wasn’t the only company interested in reducing the amount of waste their bottled water produces. The Nestle Company also jumped on the bandwagon in reducing the size and amount of plastic that their bottle uses.
The industry is also focused on creating a bottle that is healthier to use for drinking. The problem is that studies have shown that a majority of drinking water bottles contain the chemical polychlorinated biphenyl, which has been linked to specific types of intestinal cancer. So a company named NatureWorks of Minneapolis, Minn., has completed the process of developing a biopolymer named Ingeo, a natural plastic derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources. So last year following a five-month-long pilot project, a company named Primo Water Corporation, from Winston-Salem, N.C., released the first Ingeo single-serve water bottles. Primo Water is the first product bottled in renewable plastic to be sold nationally. Over the past six months, Primo Water completed another pilot study in Italy and New Zealand to see if they would have any success with their Ingeo bottles internationally. After negotiations, they have partnered with the Italian mineral water company Sant’Anna to distribute their water in Ingeo bioplastic. There are many companies competing to develop other forms of bioplastic, and hopefully, this is just the beginning of different forms of natural plastics in which bottled water can be distributed. The technology is still in its infancy stage and does require much more testing to see if the bottle can be improved, but seeing that there are companies focused on preserving our environmental future and people dedicated to public health shows that some companies aren’t just focused on dividends. For more information on Ingeo products and the Natureworks Company, please visit www.natureworksllc.com.