A national boycott of Nestlé is launched just one day after it emerged that the company bought a supply of safe drinking water out from under a small town.
Activist group The Council of Canadians launched the boycott on Thursday amid news that Nestlé outbid the Township of Centre Wellington, Ont. for a well that could have given it a new water supply.
A Nestlé spokesman said the company didn't know it was competing with a municipality, but it nevertheless matched their offer to complete the purchase from the Middlebrook Water Company for "future business growth."
Bottles of Pure Life brand water move on the production line at the Nestle Waters Canada plant near Guelph, Ont. in January 2015. (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
"The water crisis is at our door here in Canada," said Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, in a statement.
"Groundwater resources are finite and currently taxed by droughts, climate change and over-extraction. At this pace, we will not have have enough for our future needs.
"We must safeguard groundwater reserves for communities and future generations."
The group is asking people who support the boycott to sign an online declaration that aims to stop Nestlé from profiting from bottled water.
"The water crisis is at our door here in Canada."
"In the middle of a severe drought in southern Ontario, bottled water giant Nestlé continues to extract four million litres of groundwater every day from an aquifer near Guelph," the declaration says.
"Nestlé pays less than $15 per day for this precious resource and then ships it out of the community in hundreds of millions of single use plastic bottles for sale all over North America — at an astronomical mark up."
Last year, a widely circulated petition in B.C. took aim at bottling companies like Nestlé that were drawing water in B.C. for $2.25 per million litres, at the same time that wildfires raged throughout the province.
The petition, which attracted over 230,000 signatures, demanded that Nestlé pay more to draw the water.
Nestlé draws water from close to Kawkawa Lake near Hope, B.C. (Photo: Google Maps)
The Council of Canadians declaration isn't asking for Nestlé to be charged more; instead, it wants to "stop Nestlé from profiting from water" altogether.
It is asking supporters to avoid buying bottled water or any Nestlé products.
"Wasting our limited groundwater on frivolous and consumptive uses such as bottled water is madness," it said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. (Photo: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday that the provincial government would look at ways to ensure community needs were met over those of bottled water companies.
"As we look at the water bottling industry, that has to be a question because we're talking about what we could argue is our most precious resource,'' she said.
"There is much pressure on our water, so as we have this discussion about our water, the status of and the treatment of water bottling companies, that needs to be taken into consideration.''
— With files from The Canadian Press