Reach for bottled water this holiday season

Holidaymakers in South Africa’s drought-stricken areas looking for a healthy, guilt-free alternative to the tap when it comes to slaking their thirst and staying hydrated should reach for bottled water this year.

This is the message from South African National Bottled Water Association CEO, Charlotte Metcalf, who points out that water — in all its forms — is a vital component of the human diet, especially during the heat of a South African summer.

Water drop

Sensible travellers and holidaymakers will ensure their suitcases contain sun screens and hats to protect them and their families from the summer sun, and water to slake their thirst and fend off dehydration, she says.

And this year, particularly when travelling in or visiting drought-stricken areas, they should reach for bottled water instead of the tap to help reduce the pressure on already severely stressed municipal water distribution systems.

The obvious question in drought-stricken areas in South Africa is ‘Is the bottled water industry exacerbating the drought?’ and the answer from Metcalf is ‘No’.

‘More than 90 per cent of packaged waters in South Africa are either natural water or water defined by origin. This means that 90 per cent of the industry is water sourced from underground sustainable sources or springs,’ she says.

‘Since no water from any of these sources enters the municipal system, the fact that these sources are used for bottled water has no impact at all on the amount of water South Africa’s municipalities and Government departments have available to distribute.

‘Further, given that less than 10 per cent of all water bottled and sold in South Africa is defined as packaged water but that the entire bottled water industry accounts for only 8.9 per cent of the entire non-alcoholic packaged beverage industry, just under 1 per cent (0.89 per cent) of non-alcoholic packaged beverages sold in South Africa is prepared water, or water which could come from a municipal system.

‘That’s a negligible amount, especially compared to the bigger players in the non-alcoholic packaged beverage category,’ she says.

Metcalf suggested travellers check the source of the water in those bottles they buy because many of the shop-floor systems and restaurant offerings, particularly those offered in skittle-shaped bottles with Grolsh-type lids, are simply filtered or ozonated tap water.

Instead, seek out natural, spring and mineral water brands featuring the SANBWA logo, she advises.

‘All SANBWA member producers carry the SANBWA logo on their bottles. This acts as a seal of quality and a commitment to environmental responsibility as the SANBWA Bottled Water Standard covers legal, hygiene, food safety and quality, and environmental requirements, including measures to ensure source sustainability and protection such as undergoing a detailed environmental impact assessments and hydrogeological examinations, water usage and solid waste minimisation, energy efficiency, and post-consumer recycling initiatives.’

Metcalf adds that water is the best packaged beverage option for the environment, as it has the lightest environmental footprint of all packaged beverages, particularly when you recycle as the bottle’s impact on the environment can be reduced immediately by 25 per cent when you do so.

 SANBWA’s recycling tips include:

  • Set up a holding area for your recyclables in your car – it could be a packet or a box in your boot
  • Bring it home. When you’re out and about and empty a plastic container (water, iced tea, cool-drink, sunscreen etc.), bring it home for recycling if there are no recycling options around you
  • If there is a recycling bin nearby, make certain it is for plastic, and not glass or paper. And make certain that you deposit the container securely in the bin.
  • Keep the cap on. Make sure to not throw the cap in separately as it may get lost in the transportation process and become litter.