THE BLOG
11/13/2007 11:47 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

FIJI Water Goes Green

This week, FIJI Water announced a major sustainability initiative that we're calling "FIJI Green," which was highlighted in the New York Times. FIJI Green is all about our path to sustainability and it's a comprehensive approach -- cradle-to-cradle -- to lessen our environmental impact and actually reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Bottled water has taken hits from the media and environmental groups of late, and many may think we have launched this initiative solely in response to their criticism. Not so. Our industry's growth remains strong as consumers continue to turn away from sugary drinks, and FIJI Water continues to grow even faster than our industry.

Personally, I believe the environmental spotlight belongs on sodas and other manufactured beverages that outsell bottled water and may also contribute to the obesity problem. To put things in perspective, bottled water accounts for only .02% (two-hundredths of one percent) of America's oil consumption, and plastic water bottles contribute only one-third of 1 percent to the municipal waste stream.

Ironically, we have much in common with the very groups who have been so critical. From the start, FIJI Water has been an environmental leader in Fiji and in our industry. We have never bottled our water in glass, which consumes more energy, emits more carbon, and generates more waste than our PET plastic bottles. We made our bottles square because this reduces shipping volume by 10% compared to traditional bottles. And we make our own bottles in Fiji to avoid needless transportation of bottles into the country.

The heart and soul of our brand and the quality of our water depend upon our Yaqara source and the pristine ecosystem that surrounds it. Our water is not only the finest in the world; it is also a sustainable, renewable resource that we cherish. We have saved the Sovi Basin, Fiji's largest lowland rainforest, through a partnership with Conservation International and with the people of Fiji that has been in the works for several years now. In addition, our success with FIJI Water has allowed us to give back to Fiji in so many ways, from water access projects in over 100 towns, to schools we have built and help to support, to some of the best paying jobs in Fiji.

So why launch FIJI Green now? We're a small company and represent only about 1 percent of the entire bottled water industry, but we are also very visible and believe we can raise the expectations consumers have of our industry. We also think that people who love FIJI Water deserve to know everything we're doing for the environment and for the people of Fiji. By drinking our water they become a part of these efforts.

FIJI Green includes:

Becoming Carbon Negative in 2008 - We're cutting carbon emissions by 25% across our product lifecycle by 2010. And, working with Conservation International, we will invest in reforestation and other projects that take carbon out of the atmosphere; these will add up to at least 120 percent of our remaining carbon emissions starting in 2008. Also, 50% of the energy needed to power our bottling facility will come from renewable sources, such as wind, by 2010.

Saving the Fijian Rainforest - We are partnering with Conservation International and with the people of Fiji to protect and preserve the Sovi Basin, the largest rainforest in Fiji. This effort will keep 10 million tons of carbon out of the atmosphere for perpetuity, the equivalent of removing about 2 million passenger cars from the road for an entire year.

Reducing Packaging - We will reduce the amount of packaging in our products by at least 20% over the next three years, and we will increase the use of recycled inputs.

Expanding the Charge for Recycling Programs
- We are advocating for expanded curbside recycling and consumer incentive programs.


On that last point, recycling is one of the best ways for all of us to have a positive and immediate impact on the world in which we live. About 70 percent of the beverages we drink come in packages, and we need to give all consumers the tools and incentives they need to recycle. It makes a difference. The 11 states that have container deposit laws account for 60% of recycled bottles in the U.S., even though only 3 of these include bottled water. Oregon is about to include bottled water in it's program, but the remaining 46 states must address this issue.

Bottled water is here to stay, and the industry will continue to grow. Consumers simply do not want to go back to a time when soda and other sugary drinks were the only convenient choice they had. But consumers also expect us to be environmentally sustainable, and that is what we intend to do.