Sustainable Food Purchasing: Bottle Beverages

America’s thirst for grab-and-go beverages seems unquenchable. The average person consumes some 28 gallons of bottled water and 53 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year. It’s incredibly energy-intensive to manufacture plastic bottles and ship liquid beverages to their point of sale, not to mention the billions of recyclable cans and bottles that end up in dumpsters.

Here’s how to stay ahead of the trend:

  1. Scale back on bottled beverages.

    • Food Service. Leading food service establishments are replacing bottled beverages with water, juice, and soda fountains that dispense filtered water and carbonated beverages. Not only do these dispensers minimize the risk of employee injury in lugging heavy bottles, they free up valuable storage space in your facility and can cut refrigeration costs. A number of manufacturers now offer bottle-less dispensers and the list is growing. Paired with reusable cups and good customer education, it’s generally the most eco-friendly option.
    • Sit-Down Restaurants. Leading restaurants are offering pitcher service or filtered water carafes in place of bottled water. Think of it as adding a convenient, family-style service that reduces the wait staff’s trips to the table and supports the environment.
  2. For customers on the go, reduce the environmental impact of bottled beverages

    • Transport. If customers insist on bottle beverages, choose bottled beverages produced locally by selecting water, soda, and juice drinks that travel the shortest distance from their bottling plant to point of sale. Americans move over a 1 billion bottles of water each week in ships, trains, and trucks, equivalent to the fuel consumed in tens of thousands of 18-wheeler trucks. Further minimize your impact by selecting shippers that are working to improve the fuel efficiency of their fleet through programs like EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership.
    • Packaging. Source bottles from companies that have reduced the amount of plastic or glass in their bottles. For example, Nestle Waters’ Eco-Shape bottle uses 30% less plastic than an average half-liter plastic beverage container.