Fiji Water’s efforts to promote its Green Credentials (previous article here) have received significant attention since launch, not all of it positive of course.
Recently it made a ‘Top Greenwashes of 2008′ list by National Public Radio’s Greenwash Brigade along with a satirical comment
‘Yes, shipping water in container ships from a pristine aquifier in paradise is somehow green’
But could it be?
Fiji Green (Fiji Water’s Green Blog) points out that bottled water has not been a substitute for Tap Water, a commonly held assertion, but for carbonated soft drinks & sugary fruit drinks.
From an Environmental perspective, bottled water is preferable to these other drinks that use up significant Refrigeration Energy and have a higher Agricultural Impact stemming from the Energy, Pesticides and Fertilizers used in growing their inputs, e.g. Sugar & Corn.
Quoting articles from the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, which propose more comprehensive approaches to measuring a product’s Carbon Footprint, Fiji Water asserts that when compared to its alternatives in this comprehensive ‘Life Cycle’ manner, demand for Fiji Water is good for the environment.
They compare Fiji Water with Apples & Lamb from New Zealand which have a lower carbon footprint (including transport) than locally sourced alternatives in England.
Why New Zealand Imported Produce have Lower Carbon Footprints:
a) Increased Productivity from More Sunshine
b) Lower Direct Environmental Impact from Less Fertililzer Use
c) Lower Indirect Environmental Impact from Greater Access to Renewable Energies
The above factors probably don’t hold true for Bottled Water though, it is hard to imagine that Bottled Water produced ‘Locally’ will have a greater environmental impact than Fiji Water.
What’s more, Fiji Water give themselves (and the bottled water industry) a pat on the back by crediting the switch to bottled water with: Eliminating about a Trillion calories from the American diet.
A growing form of measuring the carbon impact of food & drink has been ‘Food Miles’, the idea that the more food/drink has to travel to get to you, the greater its impact on the environment.
Fiji Water, in its Green Efforts, has actually INCREASED the Distance it travels to get to NYC by 50%. However, it demonstrates that this results in 55% LESS Emissions.
This is largely achieved through an increased reliance on Ocean Freight which generates 85% less emissions than Trucking.
Here are the Past & Current Routes Compared:
Past: Fiji to Los Angeles (Ship) > Los Angeles to New York (Truck)
Current: Fiji to Philadelphia / Newark (Ship) > Philadelphia / Newark to New York (Truck)
Sure, alot of what Fiji Water is publishing about its activities is easily perceived as spin (e.g. comparing ‘producing’ water with the production of apples and lamb) but I believe they have taken significant steps to sustainably reduce their environmental impact and between bottled water and soft drinks, would anyone insist that we would be better off selecting soft drinks?
How about you?