Kill bottled water

Investment banker Paul Deninger had a message for the well-heeled group of BlackBerry-toting venture capitalists at the posh Ritz Carlton hotel in Half Moon Bay, CA this week — lose the bottled water.

“People are surprised when I tell them bottled water is more than $5 billion a year in the U.S.,” said Deninger, vice chairman at Jefferies & Co. “It’s actually $30 billion a year!”

Sounds like the kind of profitable racket any of the suits in attendance at the [AlwaysOn Venture Summit](/bus-news/article.php/3788451/Tech+Firms+Still+Ready+to+Deal.htm) this week would appreciate. But to Deninger profit isn’t the issue, the environment is.

If bottled water were eliminated, along with the manufacturing and transportation costs that make it possible, Deninger estimates it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road. He also notes “the amount of water used to create a bottle of water is three times what the bottle can contain.”

Deninger is a firm believer in the promise of clean tech, but thinks consumers and industry have to wake up to some harsh realities before there’s a commitment to change.

“We’re completely out of touch about energy utilization,” he said. “Over half the energy we generate is never used. Fifty-five percent is lost to heat and transmission.”

And although there’s a general perception that Europe is ahead of the U.S. in clean tech, Deninger said in related venture capital spending the U.S. is outspending Europe seven to one. “Europe is ahead in government regulation like they always are,” he quipped.

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