Boxed Water Is Better taps into consumer desire for environmentally friendly packaged water

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Boxed Water Is Better offers environmentally friendly packaged water

Related tags: Bottled water

By thinking inside the box and packaging water in cartons instead of plastic containers, Benjamin Gott identified a way that consumers who know bottled water is wasteful but who buy it anyway for convenience can live more environmentally-friendly lives.

His company, Boxed Water Is Better, began packaging water in paper boxes instead of plastic bottles in 2009 as a way to enable socially conscious consumption by using renewable resources, reducing waste and decreasing the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and distribution, Jeremy Adams, VP of marketing, told Food Navigator USA.

He explained that Boxed Water “is better”​ than plastic bottled water because 76% of its packaging is paper that comes from renewable trees grown in certified, well-managed forests. The boxes also include foil, a small plastic cap and HDPE for the line for freshness.

The entire carton is recyclable, but Adams recognizes not all consumers can or will recycle the cartons.

Currently, only 52% of consumers live in communities that can fully recycle the cartons, but the company is working closely with The Carton Council to add new carton recycling facilities throughout the U.S., Adams said.

In the cases where the carton ends up in the landfill, the 76% of the package made from paper will decompose safely without harming the environment, Adams said.

Plastic bottles, on the other hand, “never really decompose and the degree to which they do is bad for the environment” ​because they leach chemicals into the ground, he said, adding that the recycle rate for plastic water bottles is “still fairly low with 70% of the bottles still ending up in the landfill.”

Boxed Water is more efficient than bottles

Boxed Water also is more efficient to ship than bottles because they stack neatly in transportation vehicles and there is no “lost”​ empty space around the neck of the bottle, Adams said. This allows the company to fit more boxes in a truck and reduce the number of trucks and emissions needed for transportation.

In addition, shipping empty containers to the filling facility is more efficient because they can travel flat – meaning one pallet can hold nearly 35,000 empty, flat cartons compared to multiple trucks needed to ship empty bottles.

Improving as it grows

The company also is committed to improving the efficiency and packaging as it grows, Adams said. For example, the firm recently tested a carton without a plastic top and foil liner during the San Francisco marathon. It wanted to see if it could increase the percentage of the container that is made from renewable resources and biodegradable materials.

Adams admits the trial revealed some challenges with the potential design, but the lessons learned are part of a larger, iterative process in which the company integrates the lessons into future tests.

The final reasons Adams listed for why boxed water is better than bottled water may sound like a joke, but they likely factor in consumers buying the product more than once.

“We joke about it, but boxed water also is better because you can lay it down flat and it doesn’t roll away,”​ he said, adding that it also fits nicely in the cup holders in his car and at his gym. “I don’t see any downsides.”

Better, not best

While Boxed Water Is Better makes every effort to be better for the environment, it does not pretend to be the best option for the earth.

“Tap water will always be better for the environment than packaged water, assuming it is safe. But there is a huge demand for healthy, on-the-go alternatives to sugary drinks”​ and people are buying bottled water to fill that need, Adams said.

The packaged water market “is a growing market and it is not going to go away,”​ he added.

“You could say we should not make incremental changes, but rather just fix the problem”​ of environmentally unfriendly containers, “but the reality is people are buying bottled water and if you want to reduce the impact today, you need to make changes that fit with existing consumer behaviors.”

These are the same reasons Green Sheep Water recently launched water packaged in aluminum bottles, which it says also are better for the environment than plastic containers. (Read more about it HERE​.) 

To further offset the impact of manufacturing and distributing packaged water on the environment, Boxed Water Is Better has partnered with 1% For The Planet to identify organizations addressing world water relief, reforestation and environmental protection projects to which the company will donate part of its profits at the end of the year, Adams said. He added that the company will announce these specific partnerships in the next few weeks.

So far so good

The company’s business strategy so far is succeeding, Adams said. He noted that the firm now distributes to more than 6,000 stores in the U.S. with growing distribution in Canada and Mexico and is available on line.

“We are still small, but growing quickly. Two years ago we were selling Boxed Water out of trunks of cars to coffee shops, and now we are in thousands of retailers across the U.S. with sales increasing accordingly,”​ Adams said, adding: “We are poised for even more growth with our base sales having more than tripled since we began.”

The company plans to further drive demand by launching its first full marketing campaign in 2015, Adams said. While he would not share details about the campaign he said the company’s main message will continue to be what it always has been – that boxed water is better. 

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Life Cycle Analysis

Posted by Cheryl Sullivan, Cheryl Sullivan Business Consultants,

Very interesting - I am curious as to how you measured the environmental impact of these 2 packages. Did you conduct an LCA and do you have data to support this claim?

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Posted by TClarke,

The environmental impact of this type of coated fiber material vs. plastic is debatable. It is probably easier to recycle the plastic if the infrastructure exists. It may also better for the environment on the production side for plastic as well.

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