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Bottled-water industry shouldn’t be called ‘clean’ (letter to Portland Press Herald)

July 22, 2008

Tom Brennan, Poland Spring’s natural resources manager, stated in the July 17 Portland Press Herald (“Water sale foes plan ordinance campaign”) that “Ours is a clean industry. We don’t have smokestacks.”

The lack of smokestacks doth not make an industry clean, especially when it depends on 18-wheeled diesel trucks to deliver water to its bottling plants in Maine and cases of bottled water to distribution centers throughout New England.

The fledgling ecotourism industry in Rangeley, a truly clean industry, is threatened both by the traffic and the exhaust and noise pollution generated by these 8,250-gallon tanker trucks.

Even the ubiquitous, clear Poland Spring bottles aren’t “clean.” They’re made of polyethylene terephthalate, a polymer derived from oil; they clog our landfills; and when incinerated, they produce stack gases and bottom ash, which may be carcinogenic.

I challenge Mr. Brennan to add diesel exhaust, truck noise, road safety concerns and the manufacture and disposal of plastic bottles to the equation, and then declare to the people of Maine that the bottled water industry is a “clean industry.”

Bob Wuerthner

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