Wembley Award Spring Water Contract to Icelandic Water Company

The Water Delivery Company sells water. It buys that water from a Spring source in Wiltshire. Each week we receive many enquiries from prospective customers and one of the most common questions we are asked is ‘Where do you get your water from?’.

Basically prospective customers want to check our ‘Green’ credentials before committing to us – in an effort to ensure that by buying their water from us they are not contributing to the UK’s carbon foot print.

As a company we pay a lot of extra money in rent to be located in Wimbledon – a location close to Central London which is where the bulk of our clients are based  – but this reflects our commitment to reduce our carbon foot print – we believe our water travels far less road miles than ALL of our competitors.

These are the criteria that we employed when choosing out water suppliers over the seven years we have been operating.

Originally we were buying our water from a Spring source in Kent, the purity of that water was beyond question. However, the carbon miles of transport was an issue we were concerned about and also cost was an important factor.

After a couple of years with this company, as an organisation, we made the decision to reduce our carbon foot print by transferring our water order to Berrington Water – based in Herefordshire – again offering Spring water of certifiable purity and quality . We are running a business and so, of course, price was an issue and we managed to negotiate a very competitive price from Berrington’s – but equally important, with their help, we were able to put in place a system of large night deliveries which drastically reduced the number of deliveries, kept the roads clearer during the day thereby reducing emissions in sitting traffic and radically reduced the number of carbon miles.

After three happy years with Berrington’s we assessed out water supplier once again and used the same two judgement factors – price and green credentials. Sadly for Berrington’s our final decision was that we move our water supplier to Fonthill – they were geographically closer to our offices – the quality and purity of their water is beyond question – they offered similar night time deliveries and – let me be perfectly honest about it – by a very slight margin, a lower price! We are a commercial organisation and we are fighting to survive during a recession – I would never criticise an organisation for applying the rules of economy into their business good practice!

So I can only register disappointment to hear that the powers that be at Wembley have awarded the high profile and lucrative contract for their bottled water to Icelandic Glacial – a water supplier based in Iceland, and company that has to transport their water from Iceland  1179 miles away.

The reasons cited in the Wembley press release for choosing Icelandic Glacial is their ‘internationally recognised (position) as one of the world’s purest and leading carbon-neutral certified natural mineral waters’ as quoted on the foodbev water news site.

As Henry Tomlin, the director of Berringtons Pure Spring Water Ltd says

“I am astonished that Wembley would stoop so low after the fiasco they already endured in the building process. I would welcome any member of the Wembley committee and indeed the Icelandic water company to prove that Berringtons Award winning Spring water is in any way less Pure than their own. Also on the other point  please tell me how a company over 1000 miles away can be using less carbon than one 120 miles away.  Unless of course they are using flying pigs!”

The question of a free market is, in my opinion, central to our mutual growth and prosperity and so I have no axe to grind about the contract being awarded to a non UK based company! My objection is the flimsy argument of the contract being awarded on the basis of ‘the recognised purity’ of the water – all UK based water companies are subject to the same rigorous test of purity as anywhere else in the world – so I discount that argument immediately. And secondly, the fact that ‘Icelandic Glacial is a carbon neutral company’ – I reject this argument on the basis that any company can offset their ‘carbon output’ with a carefully placed cheque or simple statistical sleight of hand. What demonstrates REAL commitment to carbon neutrality is the efforts put in place to avoid or minimise the carbon emission in the first place, and I fail to see how shipping tons of water 1179 miles from Iceland to London can possibly be included in a responsible policy by any organisation to reducing their carbon footprint. In the water industry the eternal controversy surrounding importing drinking water from Fiji to swanky London restaurants raises its head, whenever lazy journalists find themselves faced with a blank page and a deadline to fulfil – I look forward to the clamour when they finally spot this similarly emotive story and the backlash which will inevitably be released. Watch this space!

If you have any questions regarding The Water Delivery Company, feel free to leave a comment on this post, or ring us on 0845 006 3309.

Rob Laughton

Rob Laughton

Rob Laughton is an established part of the UK water industry and has business interests in drinking water products. He is actively involved in the self-regulatory associations which work to keep strict standards within the UK water industry.

His related water businesses are listed on www.drinkingwaters.co.uk and include The Water Delivery Company - Londons' largest independent bottled water cooler supplier.

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