SANTA BARBARA, CA—So-Cal-based couple Mindy and Justin Mahy have a mission: deliver great tasting water in beautiful packaging, all while being kind to the Earth. Kopu Sparkling Water—packaged in sustainable, aluminum bottles—is making its way onto the hospitality scene, now available at the Shore Hotel and The Georgian in Santa Monica, CA.
Starting in 2015, the couple spent the following years researching how to deliver what Justin Mahy, founder/CEO of the Kopu Water Company, calls a “luxurious consumption experience,” while also providing a sustainable vehicle for the water.
Kopu water is bottled at the source in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, rich in naturally occurring silica, also known as “the beauty mineral,” and infused with champagne-like bubbles.
“Getting these proprietary bottles manufactured and perfected, people would say to us that we would never have an aluminum bottle sitting on the tabletops of a fine-dining restaurant, and when we launched in August 2017, we kind of half believed that,” he recalled. “We focused on getting Kopu in and around the pool, in outdoor areas, into country clubs and cafés with patios, and then something pretty incredible happened last year: the sweeping ban of plastic straws.”
The world—more specifically, the world of hospitality—was certainly ready for the sustainable switch, and the couple felt these bottles would satisfy the need for eco-friendly beverage consumption.
Kopu is making its way around the Golden State, also launching at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore and Hotel Californian, both in Santa Barbara, with plans to move into the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills and The Resort at Pelican Hill on the Newport coast.
“With aluminum, you can feel really good about purchasing and consuming,” Mahy said.
According to the CEO, 75% of all aluminum created in the history of mankind is still in use today because it almost always gets recycled.
“The reason for that is economics. Aluminum scrap sells for $2,400 a ton whereas glass has a negative value and is very expensive and difficult to recycle, and we’re all very aware of the terrible nature of plastic for the environment,” he added.
Aluminum is the ideal alternative, the CEO said, as it is both sustainable and durable.
“Whether it was California or New York, across the country, all of a sudden folks in the hospitality industry to some extent started taking the sustainability of food and beverage more seriously,” Mahy said. “When we started approaching people, there was already a need; people were already thinking, ‘What are we going to do to participate in this sustainability movement?’ We’re all very aware of how plastic is everywhere and piling up, and people are more and more thinking, ‘I don’t want to drink out of garbage.’”
At these properties, guests can find Kopu at fine-dining venues, cafés, patios, pools, in-room, at spas and in fitness facilities. Mahy hopes to move Kopu into more East Coast properties in the future.
Kopu also has a limited greenhouse gas profile, using almost exclusively maritime transport, which is about 25 times more fuel-efficient per ton than trucking.
“For clients on the coast, when we pull in at the port, Kopu’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint is considerably better than even domestic U.S. brands that have to be trucked from inland,” Mahy said.
As the industry moves toward these types of practices and products, Mahy recognizes some challenges, but remains optimistic. Because of how inexpensive plastic bottled water is, hotels can easily get private-label-owned, branded plastic bottles and be able to give those out to guests constantly. With alternative packaging, it’s more difficult to do that because an aluminum bottle is more valuable and thus, more expensive; however, hotels are moving in this direction.
“The sustainability-minded hotels are no longer giving away plastic bottled water,” he said. “Kopu is not an alternative for that kind of water because the bottle is more valuable.”
Another way hotels are making up for the cost is by investing in water fountains where guests can refill their bottles. “That’s an ideal alternative,” Mahy said. “If you’re refilling Kopu at hotels, it’s another zero-waste strategy.” HB