Published: 20 May 2016
Considering the fact that the UK enjoys some of the finest tapwater on the planet, the inexorable rise of bottled water in this country is something of a mystery at first glance. However, the marketing of bottled water has been so efficient and successful that now it is stocked in almost every store of any size right across the entire nation. It's a business that has been very kind to a lot of people, but there is growing disquiet at the sheer scale of the bottled water industry—and it's impact on the environment.
Harrogate Spring, owned by Harrogate Water Brands, is one such success story. The company recently announced it is to expand its existing workforce by an impressive 40%, looking to hire at least 20 more people across all sorts of roles in production, marketing, accounts and sales. Considering the brand is already sponsor of England Cricket and the Royal Ascot, it isn't hard to imagine the company going from strength to strength and growing even further in the future. One of the main selling points the brand has is that it is 'authentic' and British, winning consumers over other foreign brands.
However, the challenges facing bottled water companies should not be downplayed. The manufacture, shipping and use of plastic bottles exacts a heavy toll on the environment—the plastic bottles we drink from are still not recycled everywhere and will last literally thousands of years in landfills without degrading. These very same bottles are made using fossil fuels, giving them an automatic end date and requiring an alternative substance to be found. Each bottle carries a carbon footprint of over 80g of CO2. Considering in terms of quality there is little difference between bottled water and UK tap water, it's worth bearing in mind.
It isn't all doom and gloom for the bottled water industry, however. Just like elsewhere in the food industry, innovation is part and parcel of the job. Various BPA-free biodegradeable alternatives are being developed, and some companies are even using carton style water containers instead—the company 'Boxed Water is Better' even back their product with the promise of planting more trees to make their business completely carbon neutral. Although as consumers we can all vote with our wallets and refrain from buying bottled water so regularly, there is no denying its convenience and usefulness. The developing world couldn't do without it, either.
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