Boxed Water

Let’s face reality. Bottled water is the most outrageous marketing activity of the last years. In countries where water from the municipal tap is potable, it is an outcry to human decency to bottle and promote the sale of that same tap water.
I have no problems with the bottling of special waters originating from clear water springs and of which is said they have special characteristics, like Perrier, Evian and various others. I don’t have problems with enriched waters, which energizes life and supply extra vitamins. I have a problem with bottled municipal tap water hailed as a miraculous, healthy beverage option – a panacea for a fattening populace addicted to sugar-laden sodas, while in the meantime consumption of bottled water (in the United States alone) used anywhere from 32 million to 54 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2007, according to researchers at the Pacific Institute.

The bottled water market is increasingly commodified and what was once a healthy alternative has become, under constant assaults from environmentalists, politicians, federal regulators and price pressures, a challenge for water bottlers to improve their environmental profile.

The bottled water business is a huge industry in both the US and Canada.
Today, only about 20% of plastic water bottles are being recycled, which is alarming when you consider that in the US alone each year over 35 billion plastic bottles of water are sold.

Environmental criticisms over the impact of bottling mineral water is expected to lead to stagnant growth in the segment over the coming year, potentially forcing manufacturers to rethink their packaging with alternatives such as stand-up pouches, bag-in-box and carton solutions.

Recently three companies introduced water in Tetra Paks, stressing environmental features. They choose respectively for the more luxurious Tetra Prisma, the old-fashioned Tetra Gable-Top and finally the ordinary Tetra Brik.

Plant It Water
After launching carton packaging for mineral water products in 19 countries, packager Tetra Pak says it is now pushing a fully recyclable carton on to the US market through collaboration with producer Plant It Water.

According to Plant It Water, they have introduced the greenest concept in spring water with the launch of its new packaging made from over 60% renewable materials. Plant It Water is one of the first companies in the US to offer natural spring water in a recyclable carton, and with the shapely contours of the Tetra Prisma, the packaging is also quite attractive, making it a unique and recognizable branding element.

The water is sourced from one of Canada’s purest springs and is naturally rich in heart-healthy minerals like Calcium and Magnesium, states the company.

Tetra added that it still had to use a plastic like polyethylene in the carton to provide some barrier qualities, but is developing cartons that can be derived from wholly renewable products.

Boxed Water Is Better
Boxed Water Is Better is carbon-filtered, purified water from Minnesota and it tastes like…water – simple and refreshing. This is the latest trend in water packaging from the Michigan-based company Boxed Water is Better. Currently Boxed Water is Better is available at a number of retailers in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

The boxed water packaging is made from up to 90% renewable resources. It features a solid white carton with the graphic design done in black creating a sharp, highly effective package design that reads “Boxed Water is Better for the Earth.”

The company produces milk carton style boxes for its water. The cartons are shipped unfilled to various retailing-points and filled on demand as needed. According to the company this is reducing transportation costs and environmental impact dramatically.
The packaging used looks like the ‘old-fashioned’ gable-top carton from either Tetra Pak or Elopak. If this is true, then somebody has to explain me, how you can transport the packs in flat position, as Tetra as well as Elopak can’t be folded flat in a blank, after they are set-up.

I found a reference to Boxed Water is Better at the Sustainable is Good website, amazingly without a comment. Why amazingly? Well, Boxed Water is Better, smells like a scam, at least their sales argument: “The cartons are shipped unfilled and filled on demand as needed dramatically reducing transportation costs and environmental impact.” This argument is eye washing the consumer. Listen, the cartons are produced in a facility in Michigan and transported flat (?) to the filling points, the water is transported from Minnesota to Michigan filling/sales points. So, tell me, where is the “dramatic’ difference in transport costs, CO2 emissions and impact on environment? It smells like a monkey business. In my opinion they are just selling water for profit using dishonest arguments to soothe the environmentally critical consumer.

I asked the company to comment, but have not yet received an answer. After receiving an answer, I will update this post.

Aqua2Go quickly found that water in boxes had been around for many years, and that this was not a new concept. However, the fact remained that there was room, according to the company, for another boxed water product on the market.

The company argues that water boxes, if used wisely and responsibly by consumers, are useful for a variety of purposes such as emergency preparedness (due to 5 year shelf life), large gatherings, and other situations in which access to clean water and/or reusable containers is not an option.

Aqua2Go uses a traditional Tetra Brik of which approximately 75% is made from paper — a renewable and renewed resource. Aqua2Go is compact, lightweight, and can easily be flattened after use.

Environmental Impact
As I wrote in my previous post: Tetra Paks are ‘green’ compared with the PET-bottles more widely used for bottling water. But both do not decompose or degrade in nature and mostly end-up on the landfill. Reasonable green, the discarded empty Tetra Paks can’t be put in the main cardboard recycling stream as they are made with plastic coated lamination and contain aluminium elements and other materials which prevent their disposal into the general recycling schemes. They require special recycling facilities.
As far as I know, there are none selectively collecting systems or Tetra recycling facilities operating in the US at this moment, only in Brazil, where Tetra Pak has a recycling plant for their packs.

Feeling Guilty?
Apparently water bottlers feel the breathing of the environmentally critical consumer down their necks, as they all try to soothe public opinion in promoting environmental initiatives.

Premium bottled water brands Fiji and Evian launched separate environmental initiatives that promise to minimize their products’ impact on the planet and increase patronage of environmental causes. Fiji pledged to invest in the Fijian rainforest, and Evian invested money toward helping locals manage their water resources in Argentina, Nepal and Thailand. Both brands have also tried to push the message that, no matter what environmental crusaders say, bottled water still has less of an environmental impact than any other beverage.

On a smaller scale the here mentioned boxed water companies pledge similar promises:

Plant It Water
Plant It Water initiates environmental efforts in the packaged water category by committing to plant one tree for every carton of water sold. Through an exclusive partnership with Trees for the Future, Plant It Water aims to help communities around the world with reforestation projects and restoring livelihoods compromised by natural disasters and over-mining of natural resources.

Boxed is Better
Monkey business or not, Boxed is Better is promising to give 20% of its profits back to the resources the product is composed of – water and trees. Not only does it simply make sense, but according to Boxed is Better they really enjoy supporting water and forestation organizations as it’s part of the company’s ethos and way of thinking to give back and participate.

Agua2Go wants to demonstrate to their customers that they are committed to “making a difference” in the world. The company has made a commitment to help people in need. The company hopes that by doing so, they will not only make a difference in the lives of those they help, but also inspire others to join in.

Well, at the final end, bottling water is just fine and dandy!


4 responses to “Boxed Water

  1. Aqua2Go is greenwashed…please think twice when buying a greenwashed product. It is NOT good for the environment, and therefore it is not good for people and communities.

    Aqua2Go claims its product is packaged in “green” recyclable cardboard boxes made of paper derived from sustainably harvested trees. This is a misleading claim. The packaging is made of material certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a greenwashing organization. SFI certifies environmentally irresponsible forest destruction as “green.” This makes Aqua2Go a greenwashed product.

  2. Anton – the fact that you’re asking for proof means you’ve not researched this sufficiently. There is abundant proof – except for the sceptics! The green washing comments are utter nonsense. That was clearly written by someone who either has an axe to grind or is ignorant of both SFI and FSC organisations.

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