Nestlé Gets 10,000 Messages in a Bottle

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sara Joseph, 617-784-5278

Nestlé Gets 10,000 Messages in a Bottle

GREENWICH, Conn. -  While Nestlé executives put on a good show of the corporation’s
green and good neighbor initiatives in Switzerland, communities sent
out an SOS from the corporation’s headquarters for its bottling
operations in North America.

Leaders from communities near Nestlé bottling sites, and the
national Think Outside the Bottle campaign that works with them,
delivered 10,000 messages in a bottle calling on Nestlé to stop
undermining local control of water.

Nestlé is currently involved in water bottling disputes with
communities in six states and Canada. From outside the shareholders’
meeting the picture is an unpleasant one for the bottling giant:

Bottled water sales down. In the last year
Nestlé’s global bottled water sales declined by 1.6 percent thanks to
the economy and mounting grassroots pressure for bottlers to change
their practices.

New Colorado expansion meets resistance.
Just this month, new plans to tap aquifers that feed the Arkansas River
surfaced in Colorado, provoking determined community opposition.

Another run at McCloud. Nestlé recently
announced plans to make another run at bottling water near Mt. Shasta
in California, despite years of local resistance.

New England, new challenges. This year,
New England municipalities have countered Nestlé’s aggressive expansion
by passing moratoriums on water bottling. Still, Nestlé continues to
seek new bottling sites in the region.

In Florida, flexing its muscle. The corporation is fighting a Florida state proposal to tax bottlers to more fairly compensate the public for withdrawals.

“With Nestlé the story is always the same, the only difference is
the address,” said Terry Swier of Michigan Citizens for Water
Conservation.

Swier’s organization is involved in a protracted legal battle with
Nestlé over the bottling of water from a protected area in Northern
Michigan. An early ruling determined that Nestlé’s pumps were likely to
narrow streams, expose mud flats and reduce flow levels.

“Nestlé is determined to run us dry in more ways than one and no
amount of talk about being a ‘good neighbor’ will change that fact,”
said Swier.

Nestlé’s tactics for undermining local control of water goes well
beyond the courts. It has done everything from engineering backroom
deals to running manipulative PR campaigns to put a green veneer on its
brands.  

“When one tactic fails, Nestlé changes things up and tries another,”
said Shelly Gobeille, of Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources in
Shapleigh, Maine. “What doesn’t change is the resolve of our
communities to keep water under local control. We know all too well
what happens when that changes.”

Downstream from its bottling sites, Nestlé’s green public relations
machine is also a force. This leaves Think Outside the Bottle and
allies wondering whether the corporation will follow through on other
environmental commitments it has made on paper.

Grassroots pressure has forced Nestlé to commit, in word, to full source labeling and improved water testing disclosure.

“’Green is as green does,’ which may be a hard lesson for Nestlé to
learn given the corporation’s history has been, ‘green is as green
says,’” said Deborah Lapidus, national organizer for Think Outside the
Bottle. “If Nestlé gets the message in the bottle, it’ll change course
and start honoring communities’ right to protect their local water
resources and follow through on its promises to consumers.”

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Corporate Accountability International has been waging winning campaigns to challenge corporate abuse for more than 30 years. We were there at the beginning of this movement to demand direct corporate accountability to public interests and have been at its forefront ever since.

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