The big three bottlers (Coke, Pepsi and Nestle) often garner all the media attention surrounding their bottling activities but there are a substantial number of private labels that go unnoticed. The Polaris Institute released this report on one of them:
In the Spring of 2006, the Ontario government gave the bottled water company Aquafarms permission to take 11.9 billion litres of water over ten years for their operations in Feversham, Ontario. Some of its customers include, Loblaws, Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart. Aquafarms also has operations in British Columbia, and North Carolina and is in the process of expanding into Tennessee and Massachusetts.
The company is relatively unknown to consumers, but is among the top-four bottled water companies in Canada along with Coke, Pepsi and Nestle. Their anonymity is due to the fact that they are a privately held company. As a private company they are not required to disclose any financial information to regulatory bodies leaving them virtually hidden from public scrutiny. Their status as a private company has let them operate under almost everybody’s radar.
In order for Aquafarms to get permission to take large amounts of water, it is required by law to obtain a Permit To Take Water (PTTW) from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE). Their latest PTTW, issued in the Spring of 2006, gives the company permission to take 3,273,120 liters of water a day from three wells for the next ten years. This adds up to 11.9 billion litres over the 10-year period.
There are few statistics on the numbers of licensed bottlers or the amount of water they bottle. Michigan, for instance, had 44 in 2006.