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The big bottled water scam

waterThe Economist has a great piece about the great bottled water scam: how big brands get away with selling tap water at massive mark-ups, simply by putting it in a bottle. It’s a mystery that Greenbang has been wondering about for some time.

As the article points out, Pepsi last week switched the label on its Aquafina water to read “public water source”, rather than the more obscure “P.W.S” it used to read. Hmm, fine water indeed.

Coca-Cola is under pressure to follow suit with its Dasani brand, though so far it is refusing to do so. “We don’t believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water,” Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said. “The label clearly states that it is purified water.”

No doubt Coca-Cola still remembers what happened in Britain in 2004, when the press made a stink over the fact that Dasani was simply filtered tap water. The company became a laughing stock, as readers were reminded of an episode of a popular TV comedy, “Only Fools and Horses”. In it Del Boy, a decidedly dodgy businessman, decides to bottle tap water, selling it as “Peckham Spring”, named after the unprepossessing inner-London borough. No sooner had the initial furore died down than Coca-Cola discovered that some of the water had been contaminated betwixt tap and bottle, and decided to admit defeat. Dasani was axed in Britain a mere five weeks after it was launched.

Now we just need more mayors to follow the example of San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom: by banning the purchase of bottled water with public funds.

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