Agua Cristal


Water is something on everyone’s minds in Yucatán: although we have no lakes and rivers, our peninsula is famous for its beautiful cenotes. And, because of our tropical climate, having a drink of water is something we do a dozen times a day.

When you are faced with several brands of water to choose from in the corner store, it may help you to make a decision if you know the history of the brand with the largest market share (75% to 80%): Agua Cristal. Founded 60 years ago, Agua Cristal is one of the beverages bottled by Bepensa, a huge company which is also in the car and truck business as well as construction machinery, among others.

Bepensa is the authorized bottler of the Coca-Cola Company, and their plants bottle not only Agua Cristal, but also all the Coca-Cola soft drinks and non-carbonated sport and fruit drinks as well. This relationship with Coca-Cola, known worldwide for its impeccable quality standards, means that you can be assured of the very best drinking water around.

Water treatment: The water used for Agua Cristal is not city water; it comes from wells 80 to 100 meters deep, assuring an uncontaminated source. First it is treated to a micro-filtration of inverse osmosis; then it passes through various sand and carbon filters; and finally ozone is added. Cleanliness of the 20-gallon bottles is also carefully monitored, as they are the only size bottle which is reused. They go through a series of inspections, washings, rinses, and sterilizations before they are refilled.

Some numbers: There are more than 10,000 employees in the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. They have 17 bottling plants, 19 distribution centers, and 750 delivery routes in that territory. They sell 200,000 “garrafones” (20-liter bottles) per day. Agua Cristal comes in six personal sizes as well: 350 ml, 600 ml, 1 liter, 1.5 liters, 1 gallon, and 5 liters.

Bepensa’s work culture is people-oriented and emphasizes the following values: respect, loyalty, integrity, leadership, innovation, and excellence. They take very good care of their employees, and whenever a new plant opens there are parades and celebrations.

Recycling programs are being planned for launch in August. A thinner bottle and smaller cap will use less plastic, which means less contamination both during the production process and after use. A “crush” campaign will be launched: crush the bottle and separate it for delivery to a recycling center (it won’t be recycled as water bottles but as other products).

Thirsty? Grab a bottle of Agua Cristal!

By Juanita Stein



water treatment

perhaps the best thing mexico can do is purify her natural water.
then it would be unnecessary to have to BUY water and pollute the earth with thick OR thin plastic bottles.



I would like to know if you have any 20 liters garrafones? or know anybody that does?
thank you
guillermo garcia


Comment from a reader


I have been using 20 liter bottles of Cristal water for the past 7 years. I thought it was a good idea; but now I am rethinking that idea.

In the last year or two, Cristal changed the bottle cap type. What did that mean? They no longer accept the old bottle format and you have to purchase new ones. How wasteful can a company be? So these old bottles are now on roadsides and in landfill sites simply because the company using them appear to be more interested in theoir pocket books than anything positive they can do with the environment.

OK, I got over that one; but now I have uncovered a new phenomenon that is totally inexplicable and wasteful. Cristal puts an inkstamp on the shoulder of every 20 liter bottle with the date and lot number. Well, that inkstamp is located on a part of the bottle that sits in the reservoir opening of my water dispenser. No problem. I sterilize upper part of my bottles with alcohol before using them to avoid comtamination in my dispenser.

So Cristal has come up with a new scheme. They will no longer accept my bottles because I have cleaned off the inkstamp they put on the shoulder. Is this for real??? It is an inkstamp. If you are going to play silly games like this, why not imprint the stamp into the plastic bottle or put it elsewhere, like on the label. So now I have trash all because of some brainwave failure!

There are other options out there and I may just switch from Cristal altogether. Others in my area will find out all about this nonsense when they return after the summer.

Before making this switch, does anyone know where I may take my 20 liter bottles (or should that be litter bottles?) to be exchanged? It is sad that all of this plastic will end up in waste sites and even worse, by the roadsides.

Do the other companies make such crazy decisions about a removable ink mark on their bottles?

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Yucatan Today is the leading tourist guide of Merida, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula and was recently voted the best tourism website in all of Mexico! In our companion monthly magazine, we bring you the information you need to enjoy your experience while you are here. Read more