Case Study 1

Water Bottle Industry

In this case study, it addresses how, “the water bottling industry is also causing governments to reconsider the value of water” (Geis). Over recent years, the water bottling industry has greatly increased. Just the growth of the industry should garner research of its effects. As seen in the graph below, the consumption of water bottles in the United States from 1993 to 2013 has experienced unprecedented growth.

Statistic: Per capita consumption of bottled water in the United States from 1999 to 2013 (in gallons) | Statista

(International Bottled Water Association).


Water Bottle Industry & The Environment 

The water bottle industry is already cited as the source of serious environmental issues. For example, “Activists cite many problems with the industry, including energy consumption, emissions, and waste… Bottled water companies can consume huge amounts of groundwater, depleting aquifers or nearby wells and harming ecosystems”(Geis).

(15 Eco Friendly Water Bottles).

Water Bottle Industry & Privatization

This industry is also connected to privatization as well, “Activists say that bottling companies are profiting from public water and that the industry works to undermine public faith in municipal water” (Geis). Not only does the water bottle businesses have negative consequences for the environment and waste, but also it is gaining profits from reducing the people’s trust in municipal water. This perception is usually false, seeing as, “Developed-world water systems provide safe, clean drinking water, yet bottled water ads insinuate that bottled water is cleaner and safer” (Geis). The article, Water Wars: Is water a human right or a commodity? goes on to further state that some water bottle companies are barely regulated and are known to use municipal water. Therefore, the water bottle industry has begun the privatization of water on somewhat deceptive claims. This leads to the next topic of Nestlé and how this industry and transforming the public opinion of water,  “Coke and Nestle and Pepsi have spent tens of millions of dollars a year really manufacturing a demand for something people already have access to for free… In 2006, the industry spent $162.8 million on advertising bottled water in the United States, according to Zenith-Optimedia” (Geis). Nestlé is one of the bottled-water companies that is contributing to water privatization and the perception of water bottles, which will be addressed below.

(Spring Water, Bottled Drinking Water, Nestlé Pure Life).


Nestlé is one direct case study that can be used to discuss water privatization and the water bottle industry. As seen in the chart below, Nestlé is one of the leading brands for water bottle sales in the United States.


(Beverage Industry Magazine).


In the 2005 documentary, We Feed the World, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who was at the time the CEO of Nestlé, the world’s largest foodstuff corporation, shared his views on the world, on its resources and on humanity. Most strikingly, Brabeck stated, “Human Beings Have No Right to Water” (Brabeck).


Wordle, a digital display of text taken from former Nestle CEO, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe on "Water as A Human Right"

Wordle, a digital display of text taken from former Nestle CEO, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe on “Water as A Human Right”

It becomes clear from the proportional graphic of words below that water is the theme of Brabeck’s speech, with “privatize” largely emphasized. On the other hand, words and ideas such as “healthy,” “human,” “jobs,” “wrong,” “food,” “provide,” and “responsibility” are less stressed, and barely seen.


(Nestle CEO Says Water Is Not a Human Right. We Say No To Water Privatization!).

Consequently, there was not a positive reaction from the public. In the picture above, many individuals voiced their concerns with Brabeck’s statements, and even took to marching in the streets to express their disapproval.

For his entire speech, please watch the video below.


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