Now it’s getting sparkling: In June 2022, Stiftung Warentest tested 32 classic mineral waters. There is no minimum carbon dioxide content for the medium and classic water categories. In general, however, the classic products are considered to be the waters with the most fizz.
In terms of taste, almost all of them scored “good” or “satisfactory”, eight even “very good”. Only the Rheinfels source classic received a bad rating. According to the jury, it clearly tastes like plastic. The prices are not that great. After almost 20 years, the discounter Aldi has increased the current price for mineral water from 13 to 17 cents per liter. Other providers followed this step. Branded waters are significantly more expensive at just under one euro to 1.60 euros.
According to the Mineral and Table Water Ordinance (MTVO), mineral water should be protected from contamination and “of original purity”. However, the ordinance does not specify limit values for trace substances – i.e. undesirable, microscopically small, dissolved substances from households, agriculture or industry. It is different with the organic seals. For example, the quality association for organic mineral water specifies strict limit values for pesticide metabolites (decomposition products of pesticides).
Of the 32 products tested, nine contained trace substances. Last year it was just four out of 32 waters. Decomposition products of pesticides were detected in the waters of Teinacher, Markgrafen, Rudolf-Quelle, Justus Brunnen, Alasia and Netto, and sweeteners were also detected in Justus Brunnen and Alasia.
The Carolinen water bears an organic seal from the organic mineral water quality association, but was the only water in the test to contain nitrite – “an indication of contaminated water,” writes Stiftung Warentest. Ampa, a breakdown product of phosphonates from detergents or pesticides, was also found in the Carolinen water. The trademarks, on the other hand, are mostly originally pure.
According to the consumer organization, the trace substances are “harmless to health” because their amounts are in the nanogram range. However, such impurities would call into question the term “natural mineral water” declared by many companies.
Perhaps you have already noticed that the statement “climate neutral” is adorning more and more water bottles. But what does that mean exactly?
According to the Heidelberg Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, there are around 0.2 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per liter of mineral water. This unit is used to measure the carbon footprint. In the case of water, these emissions occur during bottling, manufacture and disposal of the bottles, as well as during transport to retail.
Compared to other foods, this imprint is relatively minor. For coffee powder, for example, the value is 13.6. Tap water, on the other hand, has a CO2 equivalent of virtually zero.
In order to reduce their emissions, providers of “climate-neutral” water such as Bad Liebenwerda, Emsland Quelle, Labertaler, Margon and Vilsa are switching to green electricity. Alasia, Ensinger and Gerolsteiner do the same. In addition, the companies work together with compensation providers and support certified climate protection projects.
Manufacturers who label their products as “carbon neutral” must explain how they achieve this. However, there is ambiguity with Untouched. According to the label on the bottle, its water is said to be “climate-neutral” – but when asked by Stiftung Warentest, the company did not say how the company managed to do this.
In addition, the consumer organization accuses the water producer of not being sustainable. The water is taken from a source in the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park in Rhineland-Palatinate. Untouched has official approval for this. In the opinion of Stiftung Warentest, however, “in times of lack of precipitation and climate change” it cannot be sustainable to “market” deep water from a national park.
Anyone who wants to buy and drink water in a climate-conscious manner is well served with water from Margon. On the bottle label, the company states which climate measures it is pursuing and a website URL that leads to climate protection projects. According to Stiftung Warentest, it also makes sense to buy water regionally or to bubble tap water yourself.