EVERYONE KNOWS that water is an essential component of everyday life, and here in the affluent western world we take it for granted. Turn on the tap and clean water always comes out, and we use it throughout the day every day for washing, cleaning, cooking and, of course, drinking. In the latter case, though, we are perhaps more likely to reach for a bottle for our drinking water, particularly when dining out. The data certainly supports this: the UK bottled water market is worth in excess of £1.4 billion and continues to grow.
This staggering statistic only tells part of the story, however. There is a growing trend towards a more thoughtful and sustainable attitude to bottled water consumption out-of-home. David Smithson of Eau de Vie, the industry’s sustainable water brand, puts us in the picture:
The provision of drinking water within the hospitality industry used to be a matter of two choices: bottled or tap. The former is, or at least has been, generally perceived as better tasting, higher quality and a more prestigious offering. Recently, though, these perceptions have started to be challenged.
In these more austere financial times the need to pay for something that comes out of the tap free can seem like an extravagance. And coupled with increasing awareness of and concern about environmental and sustainability issues - from water-miles, accrued delivering bottles to restaurants and venues, to all those plastic and glass bottles which will, at best, be destined for recycling – bottled water is becoming a little less appealing to the consumer.
I believe that we are beginning to see a fundamental change in thinking, and that consumers are starting to see water bottles – whether plastic or glass – as expensive, wasteful and unsustainable, rather than as aspirational.
Until relatively recently, say pre-recession, consumers were generally happy to pay £3.50 or more for a bottle of water on the table in a restaurant - or if not happy, did not think to question it. This is changing, and increasingly consumers are questioning a practice they perceive to be poor value and environmentally unsound to boot.
So, is there a third way? Is there a compromise between overpriced and over-packaged bottled water and chlorinated tap water which can keep the consumer and the business happy? There is, in the form of filtered water.
A fresh filtered water solution can offer a range of resources from back-of house systems plumbed into the mains water line in a kitchen, cellar or store, to a point of use system. Filtration technology today is sophisticated and delivers great-tasting water from the mains, which is obviously cheaper and more environmentally friendly than using bottled, branded, water yet still offers a premium solution. Such a system can purify, chill and carbonate tap water for serving in sealed own-label bottles, designed to reflect the operator’s brand and image.
And, just to give an example of how much more environmentally friendly filtered water is than bottled, in addition to eliminating the handling, waste and food miles involved in the provision of conventional bottled water, use of a filtration system such as the Green-Award-winning Eau de Vie can significantly reduce a site’s overall carbon footprint. Using water supplied in disposable glass bottles results in 500 times more landfill waste and more than 13 times the carbon footprint of the Eau de Vie system, while one-trip PET bottles result in 40 times more waste and more than four times the CO2 emissions*.
With the production cost of a litre of filtered water costing approximately 5p, compared to an average of 55p for bottled water, it is clear that the cost to the customer can be reduced, whilst standards and image are upheld and the operator’s profit margin increased.
The consumer is guaranteed excellent quality and taste and attractive presentation in bespoke, but refillable, bottles – so, good and green, and sound business practice too. That’s why I believe that filtered water is not only the third way to serve water in the hospitality sector, it’s the way forward.
Eau de Vie from Classeq is designed to offer a ‘complete package’ on–site bottled water system for the hospitality industry. Its fresh filtered water systems come in a range of sizes from the point-of-use cooler for filling glasses to larger systems which can produce up to 150 litres of fresh chilled still or sparkling water in one hour. These can be installed behind a bar and are plumbed directly into the mains cold water line. Alternatively they can be installed back-of-house in a kitchen or cellar area where staff can fill and refill bottles out of sight. Once installed a system works immediately and maintenance consists of a six-monthly filter change. Pre- and post- sales support, from site survey to staff training is offered and Eau de Vie also supplies a full range of accessories, from specially designed bottle wash racks to ensure bottles are sterilized between uses to bespoke over-printing of bottles www.eaudevie.me.