Margaret Teich

Is Boxed Water Better?

by , 04/02/09

boxed water, water packaging, boxed beverages, product packaging, is boxed water better michigan, sustainable design, green design, products, recycled materials

Only 14% of plastic water bottles are recycled, and Americans add 30 million PET water bottles to landfills every day! Aiming to provide an alternative to this alarming trend, Michigan-based Boxed Water Is Better is filling FSC-certified Tetra Pak boxes with Minnesota water and in doing so, giving us a new way to tote H20. But is boxed water truly the best option, or are there more ecologically-sound alternatives at hand?

boxed water, water packaging, boxed beverages, product packaging, is boxed water better michigan, sustainable design, green design, products, recycled materials

While most plastic bottles are made from PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), a material that is contains recycled content, the PET manufacturing process creates more waste than paper and emits 3 times more carbon dioxide. What’s more, 2 pallets or 5% of a truckload of broken down water boxes would equal 5 truckloads of leftover plastic bottles, which makes the boxed water more efficient to transport.

Boxed Water is Better launched in on March 13, 2009 and is currently only available in Michigan. However, the company plans to expand, and as it grows — the company will donate 20% of profits to world water relief foundations and reforestation organizations.

While we’re all for more sustainable shipping materials and fsc-certified packaging, the concept of boxed water strikes us as a small step rather than a shift in paradigm – wouldn’t it be better to eliminate the packaging completely and tote around a reusable bottle instead? Boxed water may be better than plastic bottles, but the ecological integrity of packaging and shipping water great distances is a pretty hard pill to swallow.

+ Boxed Water Is Better

boxed water, water packaging, boxed beverages, product packaging, is boxed water better michigan, sustainable design, green design, products, recycled materials

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17 Comments

  1. me December 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Why does the box have to have the plastic spout?

  2. paula lima September 26, 2010 at 5:43 am

    the solution is drinking tap water

  3. StructureHub August 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    At least they don’t make the claim that boxed is good. I wonder how many words similar to ‘better’ were batted around . . .

  4. smashinhabitat May 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I don’t think it’s going to be easy to drink water directly from the box like you can do with a bottle. Plus it is a cuboid, bad for something you might carry around .

  5. Ash. April 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Can you get boxed water shipped to your house?

  6. elowry723 April 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    The point is that single use containers have to go. Regardless of material.

    When did we get away from the returnable bottles? You just keep the bottles, take them back to the store, trade them in, and get your new case of whatever it is you drink. Pretty simple and there isn\’t any waste. Even the cardboard box goes back to the manufacturer.

  7. nzroller April 6, 2009 at 7:15 am

    “the PET manufacturing process creates more waste than paper and emits 3 times more carbon dioxide. ”
    Where do you source this information? How easy is it for Tetrapak packaging to become a raw material again?

    Honestly I doubt that heavy aluminium-coated paper (which is what tetra-pak is) is easier to recycle or more environmentally friendly than PET bottles, and they’re definitely not reusable.

    Here in Sweden, plastic bottle recycling is upwards of 85% — achieved by placing a deposit of 12 cents on each bottle sold: http://pantamera.se/pet.asp

    Still not good enough but a seemingly simple effective way to get people to recycle packaging.

  8. supachupa April 5, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    The reason most people pay big money for bottled water is because of the image they perceive. That\’s why Gatorade is becoming \”G\” and why water bottles with nozzles are more popular. It gives people the perception that they are being sporty.

    Boxed water doesn\’t have that image. Instead, it says \”I care about the planet\”. So it is a clever marketing gimic to separate this brand from the others and nothing more.

    The amount of energy used to transport either boxed or bottled water alone is purely wasteful and excessive. I agree with the others that simply carry along a refillable water bottle.

    There are many countries, however, where tap water is not safe to drink and so bottled water is a necessity in large cities (I would hope rainwater would be an option outside of the big cities). If it is a fact that the vast majority of packaging is sent to the landfill, then other than changing people\’s behaviors or the delivery method (how about a vending machine that refills your own supplied container?), the packaging should at least be something that is biodegradable and responsible.

  9. SDHO April 5, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I think they realize this is hard-to-recycle material, but choose it all the same. The point (made by this post) is that when only 14% of bottles are recycled, it’s important to address the impact of the other 86%.

    And I think that’s legitimate, except who’s going to buy boxed water? People who are concerned about the environmental impact of their designer water habit. I think it appeals most to the 14% who are already recycling.

    Stonyfield Farm made a similar decision when they switched from hard-to-recycle #2 yogurt containers to harder-yet-to-recycle #5 containers. That decision seem more justified, though, since it’s a pragmatic way to deal with an institutional flaw (not accepting non-bottle plastics) instead of a personal, easy-to-fix flaw (not recycling super-easy-to-recycle plastic bottles).

  10. ralphe April 4, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I have a half liter and a one liter thermos and a brita filter, keep them all in the refrigerator. Whether I\’m biking or driving I\’ve always got cold water at hand. Why anyone would want to throw their money away on single use products that poison the earth and themselves is a mystery to me. Why do we allow marketing scammers without souls dictate what is allegedly \”cool\”?

  11. lnewskirt April 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with Andrew…..tetra paks contain thin layers of plastic, paper and metal and are extremely hard to recycle. Good attempt, but we at least have recycling systems set up for plastic water bottles and this option really just has to go to the landfill. Tough to weigh the environmental benefits considering materials, manufacturing AND end of life. Really no good replacement for the good ol’ durable water bottle and drinking out of the tap! That’s unanimous.

  12. Jeremy April 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Sure, I guess it’s better than a plastic bottle, but just filling up a bottle from the tap is so much better again that it’s hard to get excited. Nice packaging though.

  13. SIDD April 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

    A little forethought goes a long way.

    There will always be a market for single-serve beverages, whether they be water or anything else, so reducing the harm in the manufacture and distribution of those products is something we should support… but in the end, smart people should simply have their own water on-hand.

    Buy a reusable bottle and keep it filled. Simple.

  14. Inamorata April 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I agree that shippin water is silly, but if people are going to buy and dispose bottles of water anyway, isn’t it better to buy boxed? I think it’s a much better alternative to bottled water.

  15. andrewstone April 3, 2009 at 12:38 am

    In my area milk cartons and any box like it is not recyclable. Why? Because the paper has bits of metal in it. If this is the same type of carton then it is not recyclable. Worse than plastic in my book.

  16. jessiejchuang April 3, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Now the question is, where did the water come from? Many ecological problems have already risen due to the massive ground water pumping… which links directly to water privatization, which also leads to social and economical poverty in places such as India. Water is not a profit. Selling water should be stopped all together in the first place.

    It says “the company will donate 20% of profits to world water relief foundations” This seems speculative. 80% of the profit still goes to the company. Regardless of its intention, this still reminds me strongly of companies such as Vivendi, Nestle, and Coca-Cola.

  17. Nozomi April 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    While I imagine it’s better than the scourge of plastic bottles, I tend to go with just filling my sigg with water from the tap. Or in the summer, when my water tastes like farm run-off, I run it through a brita filter and then put it in my sigg. I really don’t understand how this is so impossible for everyone. It doesn’t even have to be an overpriced sigg!

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