NZBC calls for balance in the debate over water use
Tuesday 8 August - NZBC calls for balance in the debate over water use The New Zealand Beverage Council (NZBC) is
calling for balance in the discussion about water bottling and fresh water use generally.
Over the past year, and particularly in the lead-up to the election, the water-bottling industry has been negatively
portrayed and statistics have been skewed unfairly to fuel public debate.
The NZBC is open to conversation about charges on water for commercial use, but does not support the unfair targeting of
individual industries with punitive tariffs that will deny it the opportunity to create long-term employment and
economic benefits to regional New Zealand.
New Zealand is one of the few countries globally that exports half its total food production, so our economy is hugely
reliant on freshwater - two of every three water take consents issued nationally are for high-quality ground water.
Bottled water requires high quality freshwater for its production. But compared to the production of other grocery
items, bottled water is by far the most efficient freshwater user, requiring just over 1L of fresh water for every 1L
bottled and sold. In comparison, 1L of milk requires at least 250L of freshwater for its production.
Currently, 27 water bottling plants operate in the New Zealand market (out of 44 consented nationally). They employ
about 370 full time staff and are responsible for the indirect employment of at least another 370 full time employees
across a range of supporting businesses, including packaging, transport, electrical and mechanical services.
The industry is hugely innovative and constantly seeks to minimise its environmental footprint through light-weighting
of PET bottles and caps and promoting recycling of its products. Water bottling operations have a very limited
environmental impact on the regional environment where they are located.
This contrasts to most prevailing land uses in regional New Zealand, which are often significantly more water intensive
for production and have well-understood adverse environmental effects on land and waterways.
The up-front cost of getting a consent to bottle water often runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the many
RMA consenting processes required. These processes promote sustainable regional development and employment while also
protecting the environment and the water sources for the duration of a consent (up to 35 years including review
Bottlers also face tens-of-million-dollar investments to access water sources; establish buildings; plant and equipment;
invest in people and daily operations including overseas marketing activities showcasing greater New Zealand.
Water-bottling remains a long-term strategic opportunity for New Zealand, but only if the industry is allowed to remain