Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Nestle Pays $2.25 to Bottle and Sell a Million Litres of BC Water!

I repeat: Nestle pays $2.25 to bottle and sell a million litres of BC water.

This 24-pack costs more than the BC government fee for 1 million liters of water supplied to Nestle to bottle! 

Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday February 24, 2015

By Bill Tieleman

"The marketers can compete with free; it just has to be better. Look at bottled water if you don't believe me." 

Have you ever paid $2.25 for a bottle of water? Of course, and you can pay a lot more than that if you go to a Vancouver Canucks game, a concert, movie theatre or restaurant.

So what if you could pay $2.25 not for a 500-millilitre bottle, not for a big office cooler full, but for 1 million litres of water?

Sounds ridiculous given the retail price, but that's the unbelievably low rate the BC Liberal government has given to giant multinational firm Nestle and others to extract fresh, clean groundwater to bottle and sell for exorbitant profits.

The price is so outrageous I have to repeat it. Nestle Waters Canada pays the province just $2.25 for every million litres of water. 

The total estimated price of all the water Nestle will bottle in B.C. over an entire year is -- wait for it -- $562 a year!

That's an improvement, if you can believe it, because until recently they got it all for free.

It must be nice to have an endless supply of potable water, where you can take as much as you like, sell it for an enormous profit, and pay a pittance for its use.

A bottled drinker repents

Unfortunately, I must confess a terrible sin: I drink bottled water regularly, and mostly Nestle products. I pay about 50 cents a bottle. 

I know I should be drinking tap water in the metal refillable container that is currently gathering dust on a shelf in my house, but it's so darn convenient to throw multiple bottles of Nestle water in my office and home fridges and pop them in my car when I head out.

Don't bother lecturing me -- at least I'm drinking healthy water and hydrating myself -- but this farce makes me rethink my willingness to line their pockets.

I feel apologetic, but Nestle doesn't.

"We're investing millions of dollars in that plant. We employ 75 people [and] we pay millions of dollars in taxes," said Nestle spokesman John Challinor in 2013.

Cry me a river. And at $2.25 per million litres, they can bloody well afford it.

Challinor did add that Nestle is willing to pay for the resource -- so long as everybody else does. 

I say it's time to put a serious smart metre on the bottled water tap and make Nestle and other water companies really pay.



North Van's Grumps said...

$562 a year!

Correction on payment of Nestle Canada plant in Hope, B.C. which bottles an estimated 265 million litres of water

@2.25 * 265 = 596.25


Anonymous said...

Interesting that the Blog Commentators hate mainstream media but still refer to it. Hypocrisy.

PeterInEdmonton said...

Really, you are doing a column on bottled water, while the NDP in Manitoba plays out an alternate universe version of your oft-cited sales tax battle this weekend? The Liberals in BC changed their leader, ran a referendum and changed the tax – and then got re-elected. It has been the opposite so far in Manitoba. I wonder how it will continue to play out. I have not heard if the leader of the Alberta NDP has opined on this. I bet that she will continue Mason’s position against referenda.
I worked out the annual volume of water used by Nestle to be about the equivalent of 76 seconds worth of average Fraser river flow at Hope.
If the Province hikes the rates for industrial use of ground water, it will go up for all sorts of uses – including irrigation of vineyards. I wonder how much that will cost the Wine Barbarian.
You left out an important detail from the original Times Colonist citation that Nestle purifies its own well water. Residential customers pay for that, as well as for the extensive transportation network that ends at the tap. Thank you for leaving out their spurious claim that bottled water is more expensive than gasoline. I could have picked up a case of bottles of Nestle at Superstore for less than a third of the price per liter at their pump. It comes down to less than a fifth the cost had I bought the house brand which is bottled in High River. You can pay much more for bottled water at a convenience store or at my gym (which is government-owned) but that money does not go to Nestle. I feel no guilt about buying the occasional bottle of water.
Don’t get me started on the United Church’s jihad on this subject.