It’s not everyday that a bottled water company is potentially caught up in a military junta or close to getting kicked out of a country. But, lately Fiji Water seems to give up the drama like Jersey Shore at T-shirt Time. Whether it’s the commodification of a natural resource that belongs to the people in the Republic of the Fiji Islands or their external affairs director being accused of interfering in Fiji government business, Fiji Water seems to be a company on the brink of permanent political incorrectness and, perhaps, even extinction.
In early December, Fiji Water Company purchased Justin Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, California. For many, the acquisition symbolizes a move away from bottled water, which could potentially be due to decreasing sales in an industry whose image is becoming increasingly more controversial.
But, just before the New Year, a group of individuals filed a lawsuit against Fiji Water in Santa Ana, California for making false claims. The suit alleges that Fiji Water profited from claims that its bottled water products are carbon negative. Their website states that their products are carbon negative, but the company itself admitted that they hope to achieve this goal by 2037.
If the plaintiffs prevail, it would seem to add insult to injury as far as we’re concerned. Fiji Water’s commodification of a natural resource — one to which many Fijians don’t have access — is bad enough. If the bottled water company has been profiting from a false claim in the name of bluewashing, it certainly sets the bar for a new low in an industry that’s already not winning any legitimate environmental awards, unless you count the ones they give to themselves.
Fiji Water’s parent company, Roll International Corp., isn’t exactly short on cash. But, their recent troubles, specifically the controversy on Fiji Island and the current lawsuit, could potentially have one positive outcome: getting Fiji Water both out of Fiji and out of the water business — for good.