We had a table boot off tonight about being served mineral water. Tap water is perfectly good she said. And for the most part she is right. Compared to some countries, our tap water isn’t likely to kill us, it is clean, easily accessible and more importantly free (of sorts water rates and meters excepting). So why do we continue to push mineral water?
Well for many restaurants, mineral water can be a very lucrative revenue stream. The mark-ups on a bottle of water can be astronomical. Last year we did a small telephone survey of all the Michelin starred restaurants in the UK. Of those that answered, the majority where charging in excess of £4 a bottle, with the average price being £4.50 for outside London and £5.50 for London restaurants. Thats quite a healthy profit.
But the environmental footprint can be disastrous, especially if you are serving foreign water that has been shipped around the world. We found waters available from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and many other countries around the world. The Carbon footprint of these waters must be astronomical. As sustainability and eco-sourcing become more a part of our supply chain, we have to consider there factors in our choices. Our water isn’t exactly local, but it is sourced from a nature reserve down south, and all the profits are earmarked to preserve the natural status of the reserve.
But as the recession continues to bite down, we have found many more people switching to tap water. While this can have an impact on our profit margins, it has a much more positive impact on our green balance sheet. By utilising carafes or jugs we cut down the number of glass bottles that require recycling. Considering that probably over 40% of the glass bottles we recycle are mineral water bottles, that can be quite significant. So the next time someone wants tap water, dont look down your nose at them, but embrace the opportunity to do a little bit more to save the planet.