A research conducted by Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia has found that microplastic contamination is nearly universal, with 90% of the sample showing traces of microplastic particles.
The study indicated that the contamination was partly the result of plastic packaging, and partly the fault of the bottling process.Â
While, what impact will this research have on the Indian bottled water industry is still up for debate, Brand Consultant Harish Bijoor feels that this research could plant seeds of doubts in the minds of consumers.
âBottled water brands are packaged in plastic PET bottles. That is an issue. This new report adds dimensions which need to be clarified. If not for which, there is going to be a serious doubt in the minds of people who drink packaged bottled water in plastic offerings,â said Bijoor.
âBrands will need to stand up and testify to the fact that they areÂ different. If they do not do this, there is psychological damage that can be deep and counter-productive to brand intent,â he added.
The study was carried out on more than 250 water bottles sourced from 11 brands in nine countries, including India.Â Samples in India were drawn from 19 locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.Â Brands tested included Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), NestlĂ© Pure Life (NestlĂ©), San Pellegrino (NestlĂ©), and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).
When approached, most brands vouched for the safety process that their water goes through but did not touch upon the bottle themselves being an issue.
Here is what the brands had to say:
âThe quality of our products and safety of our consumers are of paramount importance to us and we take them extremely seriously.
We have some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry, and the water we use in all our beverages is subject to multi-step filtration processes prior to production. We stand by the safety of our products, and welcome continued study of plastics in our environment.Â
Itâs clear the world has a problem with plastic waste and that too much of it ends up in waterways and in the worldâs oceans.Â Â We are working to play our part to help address this through our global sustainable packaging plan â âWorld Without Waste.âÂ We are adopting a holistic plan to focus on reducing the impact of our packaging throughout its entire lifecycle, from how bottles are designed and made to how they are collected, recycled and repurposed.Â We have set ourselves the target of collecting and recycling the equivalent of every package we sell globally by 2030.â
âAquafina maintains rigorous quality control measures, sanitary manufacturing practices, filtration and other food safety mechanisms which yield a reliably safe product for enjoyment anywhere in the world. The science on micro-plastics and microfibers is an emerging field, in its infancy, which requires further scientific analysis, peer-reviewed research and greater collaboration across many stakeholders. Micro-plastic particles may be created from innumerable sources and are found across our environment â including the soil, air and water. We are interested in being part of any serious scientific research into micro-plastics. Aquafina continues to maintain the highest safety and quality standards for our products.â
Official statement by Ramesh Chauhan, Chairman and Managing Director, Bisleri International Pvt Ltd:
The safety of our consumers is of paramount importance to us. Bisleri water undergoes a stringent 10-step purification process. All Bisleri production facilities have their own quality testing labs that ensure that every Bisleri product is made as per guidelines set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and WHO (World Health Organization)
We are currently investigating this issue.