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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Can't Give Up the Bottle? Try Boxed Water

Plastic bottles are some of the worst offenders in packaging waste, but sales of bottled water continue to grow: U.S. bottled water volume apparently rose 7 percent last year.

Of course, some companies are attempting to make a dent in the massive amounts of plastic bottle waste by turning it into fabric, and CPG companies have introduced alternatives — such as Nestlé‘s new [recycled plastic](/news_and_views/packaging/brynn_mcnally/nestl%C3%A9_waters%E2%80%99_resource%C2 %AE_now_comes_100_recycled_bottles) (rPET) bottle for its resource® Natural Spring Water and Coke’s new, entirely plant-based PlantBottle. But startup Just Water thinks its packaging is even better.

"We would never tell people to drink this instead of what's coming out of their tap," Grace Jeon, CEO of Just Water, told Fast Co.Exist. "But we know that packaged water or bottled water is not going away. It's a category that continues to increase."

Just Water is a new boxed water product that will launch at Whole Foods later this month. Its packaging, which was designed by Tetra Pak, is 53 percent paper with an interior lining that contains some plastic. The company claims that the material and process used in making the package results in 52 percent less harmful greenhouse gas emissions compared to a conventional plastic bottle. However, it can only be recycled in certain municipal facilities.

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“But carton recycling has grown 200 percent in the last two years,” says Jeon, who likens the packaging to that of coconut water.

The startup is using “ethically traded water” from Glen Falls, New York, a small town at the base of the Adirondacks, and plans to source water from similar towns that have excess yield from their watershed in the future. Just Water pays six times the municipal rate for the water they collect.

Whole Foods already stocks Boxed Water Is Better, a boxed water brand founded in 2009 that is available in over 6,000 stores in the US and is expanding into Canada and Mexico.

Last month, a team of Brazilian design students took on another packaging problem – the milk carton. Modern milk cartons have six layers of different materials (75 percent cardboard, 20 percent aluminium, and 5 percent plastic) that must be separated, with different recycling methods for each — a resource-intensive process that essentially eliminates the benefits of recycling. But the students’ solution – called RePack Milk - is composed of layers of recyclable cardboard and a flexible cornstarch bioplastic that remain separate at all steps of manufacture and loading, thus eliminating five of the six steps, making it easy to separate and recycle.


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