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Trying to put the genie back in the bottle
January 9, 2008 4:11 AM   Subscribe

Chicago adds a 5-cent-per-bottle tax on bottled water. Will this reduce bottled water consumption?
posted by grouse (90 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Doubt it. Maybe if it was a dollar tax, but even then...
posted by mikeweeney at 4:15 AM on January 9, 2008


I think the belief is that it will leave the stupid consumption the same and just add to the city coffers.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:15 AM on January 9, 2008


I agree people might not notice an extra 5 cents on a single bottle. But they might notice an extra $1.20 on a 24-pack.
posted by grouse at 4:19 AM on January 9, 2008


This is a pretty weak FPP.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:23 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is a pretty weak comment. Please take whining to MetaTalk.
posted by grouse at 4:25 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Water bottles are subject to deposit here in Maine, and I don't see any affect on their purchase at all. I suppose the fact that they are returnable might affect that, but considering that here In Portland everyone puts their bottles on the street probably not.
posted by miss tea at 4:31 AM on January 9, 2008


OK, I'll try not to sound whiny. I am writing the following in a deep baritone:

Why is it noteworthy that a city is instituting a tax that lots of other places already have?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:36 AM on January 9, 2008


The Chicago Tribune claims that this is the first major U.S. city with such a tax exclusively on bottled water (rather than, say, all bottled soft drinks). The bottlers seem to think it is novel as they are suing Chicago over this tax, rather than lots of other places. If you are aware of such a tax elsewhere, please let me (and the Trib) know.
posted by grouse at 4:46 AM on January 9, 2008


grouse: "I agree people might not notice an extra 5 cents on a single bottle. But they might notice an extra $1.20 on a 24-pack."

Considering the posted prices on bottles and cans and whatnot in the stores never include the deposit, no, I don't think it will make a significant long-term impact even on multi-packs.
posted by Plutor at 4:48 AM on January 9, 2008


First I've heard or something like this. They need it here in Toronto. I see people by cases and cases of the crap.
posted by chunking express at 4:49 AM on January 9, 2008


It's a great start, no? Water bottles are ubiquitous. It doesn't address the foolishness of carting water from sometimes thousands of miles away but it's a start. Everywhere I go, I see remnants of water bottles; maybe this will make people at least think about it. People are paying a bit of attention to this issue: Poland Springs has tried to get in front of it with a new "eco-bottle", made of far thinner plastic. Which doesn't really address the problem.
posted by etaoin at 4:55 AM on January 9, 2008


It will certainly increase the coffers of the government, if not the consumption of bottled water.
posted by scabrous at 4:55 AM on January 9, 2008


Wait, pause, I'm not suppose to spend an extra 5 cents to drink bottled water, but I shouldn't have spend an extra $5 to see boobies in Texas?

Which morality tax is good and which is bad?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:59 AM on January 9, 2008


What exactly is the definition of "groundbreaking" here? There have been deposits on drink containers for decades, all over the world. Here in Nova Scotia, we pay a 10 cent fee on every bottle, and can recoup 5 cents back if it's returned (effectively a tax of at least 5 cents per container), and it was hardly an innovation when that was introduced years ago. I'm surprised something similar isn't universal these days, to be honest.

(on preview) Oh, so it's groundbreaking because it's exclusive to bottled water. Right. Good thing they're dealing with that menace, as opposed to regular soft drinks which have 8-10 times the sales.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:01 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


It will certainly increase the coffers of the government

More money to spend on education, crime and transportation is not an unequivocally bad thing.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 5:02 AM on January 9, 2008


I seriously doubt this will decrease bottled water consumption. I mean, they are already paying $3 or whatever for bottled tap water, why would another $.05 suddenly make them come to their senses?
posted by DU at 5:03 AM on January 9, 2008


Ceteris paribus, even a $0.05 price increase will reduce demand.
posted by Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey at 5:04 AM on January 9, 2008


OK, I'll try not to sound whiny. I am writing the following in a deep baritone:

Why is it noteworthy that a city is instituting a tax that lots of other places already have?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:36 AM on January 9


Holy shit. I am not sure if this is the effect that you are looking for, but I have physical evidence which would suggest that sultry baritone of yours would be more appropriately suited for phone sex.
posted by flarbuse at 5:05 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Will this reduce bottled water consumption?

1. Demand curves for things like bottled water slope down. So, yes. Duh.
2. This is a pretty weak FPP, and moderating one's own thread is bad form.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:11 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


...even a $0.05 price increase will reduce demand.

If price were the sole controlling factor, bottled water wouldn't exist in the first place. If anything, I think we'll see an increase in demand when cities realize they can profit from the taxing the stupidity of bottled water drinkers instead of trying to educate them.
posted by DU at 5:16 AM on January 9, 2008


This assumes people act as rational economic agents. Stupid people who pay 2 dollars for a bottle of friggin water are not rational.
posted by three blind mice at 5:17 AM on January 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ceteris paribus, even a $0.05 price increase will reduce demand.

It's not a linear function, though, so "reduce demand" is vague and misleading. Not to mention that, for a lot of people, the demand for clean water is largely inelastic and price may not affect consumption. I mean, how much is your safety worth*?

*I don't actually believe that bottled water is safer, but the majority of those buying it do.
posted by scabrous at 5:18 AM on January 9, 2008


The markup on bottled drinks is absurd. They'll just absorb the tax in the current price and no one will notice.
posted by smackfu at 5:30 AM on January 9, 2008


What's the legal rationale for not including other beverages in this tax? If this is supposed to reduce waste, or save the whales or whatever, why not include all plastic bottles?

The reasoning provided in the link comes from the Chicago Law Department: spokesman Jenny Hoyle responded by pointing out that, “unlike these other beverages, tap water is a generally available, safe alternative in the city of Chicago.”

First off, what the hell is a Law Department? Secondly, tap water is a safe, available alternative to Pepsi as well as bottled water. I can't see how this isn't unfair towards water bottlers. Bottled water is a legitimate luxury/convenience product that has the exact same environmental effects as soda or 'sports' bottles.
posted by bluejayk at 5:32 AM on January 9, 2008


I'm not suppose to spend an extra 5 cents to drink bottled water, but I shouldn't have spend an extra $5 to see boobies in Texas?

The city of Chicago would argue that there is no safe, widely available alternative to boobies (that is, they don't come out of a tap).
posted by ubiquity at 5:33 AM on January 9, 2008


Good thing they're dealing with that menace, as opposed to regular soft drinks which have 8-10 times the sales.

When Diet Dr. Pepper comes out of a tap in my kitchen (oh please God let it be so!), then this will be a valid point.
posted by naoko at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is an important issue. Bottled water sales in the U.S. are huge, and growing ($10 billion in 2005). Sales of bottled water are predicated on the belief that bottled water is healthier than tap water, a view encouraged by the corporations that sell water. In truth, U.S. tap water is the cleanest, healthiest in the world, whereas the environmental costs of bottled water consumption, in terms of plastic production, and the impact of shipping (water is heavy=lots of petroleum consumption and emissions), are heavy. In other words, evian=one more way we're getting royally screwed by corporations. (Evian, as has been pointed out, is "naive" backwards. Coincidence? Probably.)
posted by flotson at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


When Diet Dr. Pepper comes out of a tap in my kitchen (oh please God let it be so!), then this will be a valid point.

My father's last words, "That Dr Pepper is a damn good product. Turn out the light."
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:45 AM on January 9, 2008


Even though the tax on cigarettes doesn't have as long of a return, dihydrogen monoxide can be just as addictive and deadly.
posted by samsara at 6:07 AM on January 9, 2008


Can we please connect my kitchen sink taps to the brewery instead of the city water department?

Thank you.
posted by lathrop at 6:17 AM on January 9, 2008


It's so annoying when people say that tap water is "essentially the same" or the exact same thing as bottled water or whatever. For one thing, tap water quality varies a great deal between cities. Even in my city, which actually has really high quality water, I just don't like the taste.

It's not some audiophile thing/placebo effect thing where people are just imagining it tastes better, there really is a difference.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on January 9, 2008


It's not some audiophile thing/placebo effect thing where people are just imagining it tastes better, there really is a difference.

Link to double blind study, kthx.
posted by DU at 6:31 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Delmoi, have you ever tried filtering your water at home though? That's what we do and it improves the taste greatly.
posted by agregoli at 6:32 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


delmoi writes "It's so annoying when people say that tap water is 'essentially the same' or the exact same thing as bottled water or whatever."

Maybe many people think they drink always 100% pure h20 :)
posted by elpapacito at 6:37 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's the legal rationale for not including other beverages in this tax? If this is supposed to reduce waste, or save the whales or whatever, why not include all plastic bottles?

Well, here in MA plastic soft drink bottles have a 5 cent deposit, while plastic water bottles don't, being so new to the scene I guess. I think they should have made the tax much higher, because I personally think bottled water should be for emergency use only.

Filters work to improve tap water -- that's what bottled water plants use, after all.
posted by Camofrog at 6:44 AM on January 9, 2008


For one thing, tap water quality varies a great deal between cities.

I always liked the water in northern Minnesota -- damn, that was some hard hard water. Probably enough dissolved iron to stop a bullet.
posted by aramaic at 6:48 AM on January 9, 2008


As a current Chicagoan and a former Mainer, I'd rather see it used as a recycling deposit than a tax that won't change consumption patterns.
posted by thedanimal at 6:53 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Link to double blind study, kthx.

Seriously. I'm one of those people who says they're the same. I have a really hard time believing a preference for bottled water isn't just confirmation bias, and individual people saying they can tell the difference does little to change that impression. So if you want people like me to stop saying that, blind or double blind studies would be useful.
posted by scottreynen at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2008


Evian, as has been pointed out, is "naive" backwards. Coincidence? Probably.)

Wow, thats more hilarious the 10000000th time I've heard it. Ugh.

This is just the city cashing in. Nothing more. You have to be truly naive to think this is some kind of powerful social statement from Daley and the aldermen. Seriously.

What bothers me is that I dont like to drink acidy sodas and acidy alcoholic drinks when out so that leaves bottled water my best choice. City water has a taste here thats hard to describe but impossible to miss. Now I'm paying extra because i'm not a slave to the alcohol and sugar peddlers. Nice!

And yes I have a filter at home, but they dont filter at restaurants and bars.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:07 AM on January 9, 2008


Also, whats nice about bottled water is that my choices are no longer pepsi vs mountain dew. If I want cold water its usually in a vending machine with the sugar water. Granted,the prices are terrible, but so are the prices for the sugar water. I also avoid unecessary caffeine intake too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:13 AM on January 9, 2008


I agree that bottled water should have some incentivised scheme to reduce plastic waste - not sure if tax is the right answer, as that will penalise anyone who's drinking water instead of alcohol on a night out.

It would probably have improved this fpp to have compared this initiative against China's recently reported ban on plastic bags to be introduced later this year...
posted by Chunder at 7:19 AM on January 9, 2008


I agree with delmoi on this. I'm all tap water now, but when when I lived at home, we had the Culligan 5gal thing. After drinking that water, I could not stand the taste of tap water. Simply, it tasted dirty in the face of bottled water. I think part of this boils down to what people are used to. Now that I never drink bottles water, tap doesn't bother me.
However, if I lived in FL, I would so be back on the bottles-world train. I feel like I'm drinking straight ocean water down there.
posted by jmd82 at 7:19 AM on January 9, 2008


Interesting tidbit: Here, recyclable plastic bottles (not PET, but thicker plastic, each has lifetime of 20 uses on average) have 98% return rate, with returnable deposit of 20¢. Cheap imported plastic PET-bottles have been gaining markets, mostly with bottled water or juice concentrates, but now they're trying to replace them too with recyclable pet-bottles (meld and reform) with return fee.

Bottle recycling can be really effective, but it needs some governmental bossing to achieve that: every store that sells bottles must accept them back and pay the return fee. Drink companies are guaranteed to take the empty containers from stores and compensate for them: Truck comes, brings in crates of full bottles and takes out crates of empty bottles. There is not much extra transportation because of that. Companies have happy little cartel, where they all use same kinds of bottles so they don't have to take care that bottles go to right truck.

True disposable bottles are still so rare on my daily life, that there is wondering what to do with a disposable bottle. Throwing it to garbage just feels wrong, I'm not used to that, and that's not some environmental thinking, that's just the way things are. In this context, disposable water bottles feel extra stupid. When you need to buy one, you keep refilling it with tap water because you don't know what else to do with it, and yes, tap water is better than anything they sell.
posted by Free word order! at 7:26 AM on January 9, 2008


Crap FPP. But I hope more cities do this, but make it explicit that the money will go to improving municipal water / sewage systems.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:39 AM on January 9, 2008


This eco-solution disregards the far more important issue: that water is considerably more healthy than pop. Maybe other bottled goods should be taxed before you tax water. Water is good for Americans.
posted by niccolo at 7:41 AM on January 9, 2008


Also, to put things into perspectie: Chicago has absolutely zero non-voluntary recycling. Everything goes into the trash. This is how seriously the city takes "eco-sins." Again, this is just a cash-out to punish those who dont drink highly taxable alcohol and soda.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


It no doubt would be better as a recycling deposit, and should probably be much higher, but I'm still really excited to see this. Or maybe they could use the revenue from the tax on bottled water to improve the tap water in the city. Bottled water is a huge waste for a lot of reasons, and water is a rapidly diminishing resource. It's about time American consumers start to consider that. Not that they'll notice the extra $.05, but, you know, it's the principle of the thing.


damn dirty ape - Really? Whoa, that sucks.
posted by lunit at 7:54 AM on January 9, 2008


I discovered recently, quite by accident, that Chicago tap water, when it's really freaking cold, tastes just as good (or as neutral) as the water from our Brita or the water from a $1.50 plastic bottle.
posted by goatdog at 7:55 AM on January 9, 2008


The water in my apartment comes out cloudy. When I boil it, it tastes like cleaning fluid. I'm not taking my chances just yet.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:11 AM on January 9, 2008


No genie here folks, the bottled water fad exists for two reasons :
1) Water tastes better than Coca-Cola, but
2) Coca-Cola payed state legislatures to eliminate water fountains.
Just reenact all the old legislation mandating water fountains.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:52 AM on January 9, 2008


Water tastes better than Coca-Cola

Them's Fighting Words.
posted by chunking express at 8:55 AM on January 9, 2008


when it's really freaking cold, tastes just as good (or as neutral)

Doesn't cold dull flavors?
posted by smackfu at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2008


That double blind study might be difficult to do in many cases: according to the NRDC, "an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle -- sometimes further treated, sometimes not." (from the NRDC Bottled Water FAQ)
posted by tractorfeed at 9:01 AM on January 9, 2008


4 things to hate about bottled water.
posted by chunking express at 9:04 AM on January 9, 2008


I sometimes walk along the Potomac River, and there are hundreds and hundreds of plastic bottles in the water and on the shore. If I were of a mind to, at a nickle a piece, I'd be willing to carry a trash bag and collect the bounty.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:06 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have physical evidence which would suggest that sultry baritone of yours would be more appropriately suited for phone sex.

I don't know about "more appropriately," but I don't think many people would pay for whiny phone sex.


Camofrog - back in the days of ubiquitous returnable glass bottles, small ones had a nickel deposit, and big ones were a dime. When MA instituted the deposit law, they made everything a nickel, which didn't make a whole lot of sense.

scottreynen - I assure you it's not all confirmation bias. Where I live has crappy water, so for a long time, I bought jugs of store-brand spring water. One store's water tasted better to me, so I bought that. One day, I opened a bottle of the last batch and poured a glass. It tasted really off, so I looked at the label. They'd gotten a lot of water from the same source as the other store. I wasn't the only one who noticed, either. The purchasing guy for that market said a lot of people had asked about it.

Last Spring, I installed a whole-house filter and an under-the-counter drinking water filter, so I don't buy the water in plastic any more. Even so, the filtered water tastes a little different from the bottled stuff.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2008


I don't really understand a 5 cent tax. A 5 cent deposit is much more worthy.

Of course, a deposit has been fought for years by the bottled water people, because it would add a lot of cost to cases of bottled water. Like grouse said, it's $1.20 on a 24-pack that might go on sale for $5.
posted by smackfu at 9:15 AM on January 9, 2008


For the sake of fairness, I'd like to hear from the bottled water industry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2008


In other words, evian=one more way we're getting royally screwed by corporations.

I'd rather save the really high-pitched outrage for when some corporation is knowingly giving an entire community cancer or something. I'd hate to waste it on "they are making a frivolous product available." Working within the law to sell something people want (even though it produces pollution and trash) is what almost every company does. Are we getting screwed by the corporations? Not really. It's more the government's failure to tell them what they can and cannot do.
posted by salvia at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someone actually sent me a memail asking me to follow up in this thread. First time that's happened :)

Anyway, they basically asked me what I thought about home filtration, rather then bottled watter.

Well, for one thing it would depend on how well it actually filtered the water. I'm sure you could get filters that produce water imperceptibly different from most bottled water, but how much do those cost?

I personally don't drink that much bottled water. If I do, I get gallon jugs of generic water from the supermarket for 50¢. I might sometimes buy bottled water from vending machines or something like that, rather then drinking tap water at work, but lately I've been feeling more frugal, plus we have a bottled water cooler at one of my offices (I have two offices and switch off every day).

So getting a water filter would really be an investment question. Would I save more money overall buying a filter, or buying gallon jugs over and over? And how long would it take for that investment to pay off?

And the other question is, what happens when you're away from home and want a drink? Do you drink out of a fountain, or buy bottled water from a vending machine?

Anyway, my point was just that there is a difference in taste between water from the tap and pre-purified water. If you want to purify it yourself, more power to 'ya :)
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on January 9, 2008


And the other question is, what happens when you're away from home and want a drink? Do you drink out of a fountain, or buy bottled water from a vending machine?

I guess I'm not as particular as you. I drink water out and about from the tap (at work) as long as it's filled with ice. If I'm on the road and have to stop at a gas station, I buy bottled water. I'm rarely out in a situation where I'm away from tap water for long. I am getting the impression that some people don't merely dislike the taste of some waters, but actually are repulsed enough that they can't drink it.
posted by agregoli at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2008


I'm sure you could get filters that produce water imperceptibly different from most bottled water, but how much do those cost?

My whole-house filter, which takes out the sediment, cost about $60, and replacement cartridges last about three months and cost $10-15. The under the counter one filters out chemicals and improves taste. It cost about the same, with similar cartridge costs. I was buying about $4 of those 50-cent gallons a week, so the filters paid for themselves months ago. I put both filters in myself; if you have to hire a plumber, it will take longer to pay off, but eventually, you'll start saving money.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2008


agregoli, there are places in the U.S. where the tap water is not safe to drink. Some of those places are not publicized until after people get sick. If it tastes bad or smells bad, I will try not to drink it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2008


While I would agree in general with those who argue that bottled water is mostly just fancified, imported tap water, it is a scientific fact that Volvic tastes better than other waters, and is better for you. I can say this with assurance because I have what scientists like to call a "scientific mind."
posted by facetious at 9:52 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's also a whole class of "safe to drink, but smelly". My grandparents in Florida had water that smelled like sulfur... they would never drink it because it was gross, but they'd use it for dishes and showers and such.
posted by smackfu at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2008


Burger-Eating Invasion Monkey: part of the problem is that here, the money is spent directly on crime.

People pointing out that some places have gross or unsafe water: not in Chicago. There's this large fresh liquid body next door that we get testy about protecting. Also, for reasons of mass dementia, people here are anti-recycling. The city's incredibly poor implementation (blue-bags) has managed to make skeptics out of believers. When you realize that all that dutifully sorted rubbish just gets throw away, it ticks you off. I don't know if a major manufacturer does this or not, but it would be a great idea to bottle the water *here* and redistribute. It's pretty good tasting water.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:58 AM on January 9, 2008


agregoli, there are places in the U.S. where the tap water is not safe to drink. Some of those places are not publicized until after people get sick. If it tastes bad or smells bad, I will try not to drink it.

I realize that. I personally have never run into that situation, despite traveling extensively.

I still find it very hard to believe that all the people who ecschew tap water are doing it because the water is unsafe to drink - it seems far more likely that it's a preference.
posted by agregoli at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2008


I'm not sure if it's just a European thing, but the whole bottled-water-is-just-tap-water meme only applies to "spring water" or "still water" over here. You can't treat "mineral water", if you treat it you have to call it something else.

Maybe this is why Dasani died on its arse in the uk.


taste test (completely non-scientific and only included to annoy the haters)
posted by fullerine at 10:03 AM on January 9, 2008


Drinking bottled water doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it is nowhere near immoral. Hell, if we're talking about eco-sins, I think me buying the gas station twinkies would be worse. Bottle water makes some people inexplicably happy; as does my Playstation 3. Both produce waste, encourage companies to create trivial products, and could be replaced by cheaper, "better" alternatives.

Point is, just because you don't understand or agree with a purchase, doesn't make it morally wrong.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:13 AM on January 9, 2008


I buy bottled water for my carnivorous plants, which require a minimum of dissolved mineral content--less than 100ppm. Interestingly (well, interesting to me for the sake of my plants, anyway), the water which comes out of those bring-your-own-jug coin-ops commonly found outside of supermarkets dispense tap water which is run through reverse-osmosis units and treated to remove chlorine and is comparable to my TDS meter to distilled.

Also using my TDS meter, I've noticed most common brands of bottled still water have significantly more salts than the local samples of tap, so there is likely some basis to the notion that some people chose bottled water for the taste if salt is being added.
posted by jamaro at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2008


aramaic writes "I always liked the water in northern Minnesota -- damn, that was some hard hard water. Probably enough dissolved iron to stop a bullet."

I'm on a well here, and there is so much iron that you can taste the rust. It's OK for most cooking and bathing, but I don't have enough money for the kind of filter needed for this sort of water, and the rust taste is a bit much. Regular filters wear out in a week or two. So, I buy reverse osmosis water by the gallon out of a machine at the grocery store, and put it in my own carboy containers.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2008


Count me among those who can taste a difference between bottled water and tap water. Which isn't to say that tap water isn't drinkable, but in some cases, there is a gap between potable and 'tastes good'. I'm not particularly picky and I'll gladly drink from a water fountain, but given my choice, I'll take water from my reverse-osmosis filter: it doesn't cost a whole lot, and tastes awesome.

I'll occasionally get bottled water when I'm not at home, but that's just for the convenience. I'll usually refill it from a fountain when it runs out.
posted by quin at 10:43 AM on January 9, 2008


Previous related thread: The many costs of bottled water.
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on January 9, 2008


NPR: Rethinking Bottled Water .
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on January 9, 2008


Penn & Teller's Bullshit -- BottledWater.
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2008


The real impact of this is that the homeless just got a raise.
posted by eener at 12:33 PM on January 9, 2008


2) Coca-Cola payed state legislatures to eliminate water fountains.

Does anybody have a cite on this? I'd be fascinated to hear about it, if it's true.

Personally I try to avoid bottled water whenever possible (because I'm cheap, mostly) and just prefer to fill a Nalgene or glass from a Brita instead. I'll occasionally drink tap water but I can't stand the chlorine -- something about it makes my mouth feel more dry after drinking chlorinated water than if I had nothing at all.

Bottled water is definitely evil, but on the other hand I wish city water departments would work on finding some alternatives to chlorine to keep the water safe, because I suspect that's the biggest reason (besides Lemming-like consumerism) that people prefer bottled water to tap. When your tap water tastes like the shallow end of the YMCA pool, bottled water doesn't have to be spectacular to taste better.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:04 PM on January 9, 2008


“What's the legal rationale for not including other beverages in this tax?”

Fuck you, pay me.

“If this is supposed to reduce waste, or save the whales or whatever, why not include all plastic bottles?”

Fuck you, pay me.

“First off, what the hell is a Law Department?”

None of you’re fucking business.

“Secondly, tap water is a safe, available alternative to Pepsi as well as bottled water. I can't see how this isn't unfair towards water bottlers.”

Fuck them, pay me.

bluejayk, welcome to Chicago. ;-)

But srsly - what flotson sed.
I’d like to see the tax go to protection for great lakes water and maintainance of the filtration and reclaimation plants. Some upgrades maybe. Perhaps even some R&D while I’m fantasizing.
That’s not what’s happening or going to happen wit Da Meyr, but y’know.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:47 PM on January 9, 2008


I don't know if a major manufacturer does this or not, but it would be a great idea to bottle the water *here* and redistribute. It's pretty good tasting water.

I can't find a citation for this, but I've read the Aquafina uses a Chicago municipal source as one of its sources. I don't know how the big bottlers, Aquafina and Dasani in particular, are set up logistically. I do know they use municipal sources scattered around the country. It would be interesting to know where the water is sourced in addition to how it's sourced. I would be surprised if nobody sourced in Chicago, but right now there's no easy way of knowing.
posted by prosthezis at 5:47 PM on January 9, 2008


I thought Aquafina and Dasani were produced by local Pepsi and Coke bottling plants respectively, and it's hard to see why they would go to any more trouble than is necessary to get water from their nearest municipal supply.
posted by grouse at 6:05 PM on January 9, 2008


That requires knowing where the local bottler is, if they actually bottle Aquafina/Dasani there, etc. Aquafina's website claims they bottle at 33 locations in North America. How that corresponds with Pepsi bottlers, I don't know, but I doubt they're slapping purification equipment into to every bottling plant. Especially since Pepsi doesn't own or control all of its bottlers in NA.
posted by prosthezis at 6:27 PM on January 9, 2008


If you bottle tap water, it would certainly make sense to place your plants in places with good tap water. It doesn't say anything about the quality of tap water in general, really.
posted by smackfu at 7:31 PM on January 9, 2008


The solution to all this is simple. Don't drink water. Drink beer.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 PM on January 9, 2008


I don't know, but I doubt they're slapping purification equipment into to every bottling plant.

I'm not sure why they wouldn't. Where do you think they get the water for the soda they bottle there? They don't haul around bulk tanks of Coke or Pepsi in drinkable form; it'd be way too expensive. They only ship concentrated syrup, and then mix it down with carbonated water at the bottling plants. That water comes from the municipal supply and has to be filtered as well, to prevent it from changing the flavor of the soda. So even if you're just doing soda, you have to have some sort of water-purification setup.

I strongly suspect that many bottled waters -- Dasani in particular -- are nothing but the same water that goes into the soda, only without the carbonation added and with a few 'herbs and spices' (probably just some salt and maybe a few other minerals) tossed in.

Aquafina does advertise that it's gone through a Reverse Osmosis setup prior to bottling, but those systems aren't terribly expensive (although they waste large quantities of water). You can get household RO systems for a few hundred bucks; it's not particularly exotic technology. Given the profit margins on bottled water and the growth in that market, it'd be a small price to pay if you were a Pepsi bottler and the lack of one was keeping you out.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:34 PM on January 9, 2008


The solution to all this is simple. Don't drink water. Drink beer.

Historically, drinking wine and beer, or adding spirits to water, was promoted as a healthy alternative to water that was polluted with human waste, parasites and other bugs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 PM on January 9, 2008


Kadin - your suspicion is well founded: Coca-Cola Admits That Dasani is Nothing but Tap Water. Also: Aquafina labels to spell out source - tap water.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:37 AM on January 10, 2008


OTOH, if we're talking environmental consequences, local tap water is way better than shipping it from a spring in Maine. Tricky.
posted by smackfu at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2008


Then again, "local" tap water generation can have its own environmental consequences. Quabbin Reservoir. Los Angeles Aqueducts. Las Vegas: Crops vs. Craps.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2008


I understand that bottled Great Lakes water is popular overseas in Japan, et.al. Just something I’ve heard. Ironic if true.
We, and other Great Lakes cities, are getting pretty serious about conservation (f’ing finally). I remember hearing one of the GOP candidates wanting to pipe GL water to areas facing draughts and such. Uh, huh. Yeah. That’d be real popular around here.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on January 10, 2008


Historically, drinking wine and beer, or adding spirits to water, was promoted as a healthy alternative to water that was polluted with human waste, parasites and other bugs.

Exactly. That's why I do it.
posted by jonmc at 7:53 PM on January 10, 2008


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