Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Bottled Water to Outsell Soda for First Time, with Nod to Flint

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Bottled Water to Outsell Soda for First Time, with Nod to Flint

Article excerpt

Bottled water will be more popular than soda for the first time in the U.S. this year, thanks to its convenience - and fears over what's coming out of the tap. The biggest U.S. bottled-water companies - Nestle Waters, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group - say Americans have switched from carbonated beverages because their products are calorie-free and as portable as a can of Mountain Dew. But the expectation that future sales will rise has to do with another, less happy reason: crumbling infrastructure.

Attention is focused on America's decaying pipes after lead contamination in Flint, Michigan; Washington, D.C.; and Newark, New Jersey. At least $384 billion of improvements are needed to maintain and replace essential parts of the country's water infrastructure through 2030, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental watchdog, estimates that about $1.4 billion is being spent annually, meaning the country should be all caught up by the year 2290.

"Concerns in places like Flint do bring bottled water to people's attention as a safe and sealed source of drinking water, said Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America, the largest bottled-water maker. The source of Nestle's Poland Spring brand is in Maine, while its Pure Life brand is filtered municipal water.

Bottled water, of course, is vastly more costly than tap water and, many contend, far tougher on the environment. It's about 2,000 times more expensive than tap on average, says Peter Gleick, president emeritus and chief scientist at the Pacific Institute. And it takes a lot of water to manufacture the bottle - triple the amount that's inside, according to data from the Pacific Institute. Moreover, only 30 percent of the plastic bottles are recycled, the National Association for PET Container Resources estimates.

But if there are concerns about bottled water; the misgivings about soda are greater. Per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks reached a 30-year low in 2015, according to Beverage Digest. Americans will each drink 27.4 gallons of bottled water this year, 1.2 gallons more than soda, according to Euromonitor. …

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