From the "That's one way to handle it" files: today, FIJI Water announced that they've done a lot of research and ready to fully disclose the carbon footprint of its products. They've joined the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration, and launched a new website at Fijigreen.com in support of their efforts to become carbon negative. That's right: following the notion that measurement is the first key step to managing emissions, a bottled water company is branding itself green.
But, as we've seen time and again, bottled water is not green, from the humongous carbon footprint to the tremendous amount of unnecessary waste it creates to the world of reasons not to drink it. Even if there are pharmaceuticals in your water, its not a better choice. So what is FIJI Water trying to pull?It's sort of a new brand of greenwashing, or at least a fresh take from the bottled water industry. They're right; measuring your carbon footprint is the first step to managing emissions, but can they account for being in a "business that is fundamentally, inherently and inalterably unconscionable," according to Michael Brune of the Rainforest Action Network. TreeHugger Llloyd called it out and out greenwashing when they announced their carbon negative goals in late 2007, but, as several commenters noted, it was still a step in the right direction.
Today's press release cites some interesting stats in an attempt to show this last point, that they are making steps in the right direction, but it comes off in a "see, not all our fault or our problem" sort of way. They note that the company, "calculated its carbon emissions across every stage in the product lifecycle," and that "this comprehensive, supply chain view is important because approximately 75% of FIJI Water’s emissions result from the operations of supply chain partners, e.g. raw materials suppliers, rather than from the company’s own operations." You can take this one of two ways: that the company isn't all at fault, or that the bottled water industry, with its transportation, raw materials inputs, packaging waste, etc., is a filthy, landfill-choking, carbon-emitting mess. Either way, it doesn't really look very good for them.
As part of its greening strategy, which includes reducing actual greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2010 by reducing packaging 20%, supplying at least 50% of the energy used at its bottling facility with renewable energy and optimizing logistics to take advantage of more carbon efficient modes of transportation, the company has partnered up with Conservation International to create carbon offsets through reforestation of Yaqara Valley, Viti Levu, Fiji. That work wouldn't necessarily get done without FIJI Water's involvement, so it's nice that they're doing it -- let's face it, the planet needs all the help it can get -- but it's not so nice that it's at the behest of a bottled water company. It's pretty tough for us to get past that.
So, perhaps the best way to sum this one up is: TreeHugger is glad to see that FIJI Water is paying attention to their carbon emissions -- because there are a lot of companies, in the bottled water industry and elsewhere, that are not -- but not very glad to see that they're using the opportunity to sell more bottled water. It's smart marketing and we suspect more bottled water companies will follow in their footsteps, but that still doesn't make it very green. Proceed with care to ::FIJI Green.
See also: ::Lipstick On A Pig Dept.: Fiji Water Goes Green, ::Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water, ::Should We Promote the "Better" Bottled Water, and ::A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water