The name changes of the bottled water extractor but the status quo remains, all with the blessing of Michigan's top leaders. If you have a gripe, don't blame BlueTriton
You’ve heard the saying “the more things change the more they stay the same.” Rough translation, superficial change isn’t change, it just reinforces the status quo.
And that’s the case with the bottled water business in Michigan. The sale of Nestle Waters North America - Ice Mountain and a bunch of other brands - closed recently. That means Nestle, the bete noire of bottled water activists, won’t be around to demonize. You can no longer blame the Swiss company for taking precious groundwater, paying a pittance for it and putting it in plastic bottles to sell back to us.
Game changer, right?
Nope, the same take, bottle and sell water scheme continues apace, it’s just a new entity driving the process. BlueTriton Brands now runs the water extraction biz that Nestle had in the Great Lakes state.
BlueTriton breaks its name down like this. Blue, for water and Triton is god of the sea in mythology. The new name “reflects the company’s role as a guardian of sustainable resources and a provider of fresh water," according to its press release.
The release goes on to say BlueTriton is committed to sustainability and high-quality products, the obligatory mentions.
The BlueTriton name doesn’t work for me. But it’s their business and who knows, maybe their smart branding team got it right.
Here’s what makes me anxious. BlueTriton sees itself as a “guardian of sustainable resources.” Consumer of sustainable resources? Yes. But it exists to take and sell a natural resource, not to protect it.
The guardian of Michigan’s groundwater extracted and sold for bottled water is the state of Michigan with the public’s interest in mind.
It’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and before her Govs. Rick Snyder and Jennifer Granholm. It’s Department of Environment Great Lakes & Energy’s Dir. Liesl Clark and her predecessors when the agency was the DEQ. It’s the legislature, both parties, with the power to enact new laws.
If you have a gripe with BlueTriton, save it. Direct it toward leaders in Michigan’s government. They can be bottled water game changers, but so far they’re ok with the status quo.
Chicago-based environmental journalist