The changing face of the water industry... It is widely known that the water industry and in particular the bottled water sector is under a lot of scrutiny due to its negative impact on the environment. Plastic bottles used for water, particularly single use bottles, require a significant amount of energy during production, acquire a large amount of ‘food' miles in transit and then once disposed of add to the huge strain on landfill. What is initially thought of as a good healthy, personal choice quickly becomes a bad environmental choice. The water industry is actively looking at ways to change this and awareness of this problem has led to companies addressing their product development and their manufacturing and production processes. New initiatives are being explored in a hope to revolutionise the industry and deliver environmentally friendly alternatives. So, what lengths is the water industry prepared to go to in the name of being more ‘green'? Here we explore some of the innovative product developments and international initiatives that could change the face of the water industry: Bag-in-box (BIB) – The use of the BIB in the water market is an interesting concept. This innovative solution is simply a bag filled with water, in a box with a ‘tap' on it - much like boxed wine. The customer can choose whether to drink the water straight from the box or ‘plumb' it into a water cooler to drink it chilled. + Boxes are flat packed until filled with water and so take up less space on vans and require less deliveries + The customer is able to store more as the boxes take up less space resulting in fewer deliveries + In most cases all of the packaging is fully recyclable + They don't require any sanitising, saving money and time - Cardboard doesn't mix well with water! The packaging can break when in transit. - It is unlikely that home users would want to store numerous boxes of water and may potentially order one at a time, therefore increasing the number of deliveries - BIB can only be used once before being discarded Water Refill Stations – Canadian water treatment company Nimbus is promoting its ‘fill a bottle' campaign that encourages customers to take their empty bottles to one of its stations to refill their reused bottles with filtered water, rather than buying more plastic bottles every time. + The refill stations are situated at places such as supermarkets where users are driving to anyway so there is no extra carbon footprint involved + Switching to refillable water containers should be as easy and convenient as switching to a reusable shopping bag - There are possible health implications when reusing plastic bottles as they are prone to releasing harmful chemicals - There is controversy around whether natural resources that are required for washing of the old bottle (which is necessary due to bacteria) and potentially adding detergent to the water supply outweighs the environmental ‘good' from reusing the bottles. - Possibly more of a hassle for the customer and relies on the customer remembering to re-use the bottles. Green Bottles – With the poor environmental images of the small PET bottle used for water, various companies are exploring alternatives. A great example is Green Planet's bottle that produces bottles from 100% plant based material + Customers can benefit from the convenient sized bottles without compromising the environment + The bottles don't leech any chemicals meaning they can be reused again and again + The bottles are 100% recyclable and biodegradable. They decompose within 80 days. - All bottles still need to be transported and delivered, incurring a large carbon footprint Point of Use (POU) Water Coolers –A convenient and reliable bottled water cooler alternative. The water cooler plumbs directly into the water mains in the building and filters and chills the water before dispensing. + Doesn't require any bottles of water, saving on deliveries and storage + Saves on potential health and safety issues from lifting bottles of water + There is no risk of running out of water even on a hot summer + Can dispense hot, ambient and cold water + The production of POU coolers is becoming more energy efficient - Requires a small amount of maintenance - Generates a carbon footprint in the production process of the coolers