Paper or plastic? Here’s an alternative strategy for water bottles

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Water. It’s one of the most wanted guest amenities—and the most natural one to boot—but giving guests what they want in a sustainable manner can be a bit tricky. That’s the challenge Boxed Water, a company that offers an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bottled water, aimed to solve.

Certainly, bottled water is popular in the U.S. “Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23%, meaning 38 billion water bottles—more than $1 billion worth of plastic—are wasted each year,” said Matt DeWitte, the company’s VP of marketing. “Bottled water consumption is set to overtake soda in the U.S. this year, meaning this problem is only going to increase if better solutions aren’t adopted.”

DeWitte outlined the major environmental problems that arise from using plastic bottles. “Plastic comes from a nonrenewable resource—oil—so it is not a sustainable option compared to paper cartons,” he explained, noting that plastic also takes hundreds—or even thousands—of years to break down in the environment. “The plastics that we use today will be around for a long time going forward. We think that there is a better way to think about packaging that can reduce the amount of plastics used to help alleviate both of these concerns.”

As its name suggests, Boxed Water hosts the liquid in a recyclable, 100% BPA-free carton that’s made from renewable paper from well-managed forests. It uses a proprietary, five-step process including reverse osmosis, UV and carbon filtration for purity, and does not contain chromium, arsenic, MTBE, chlorine, fluoride or trace pharmaceuticals. The company has also aimed to reduce its carbon footprint and efficiency by shipping its carton flat to plants to be filled. Once filled, its square shape reduces shipping waste compared to rounded products—which means fewer trucks are needed for transport.

And while Boxed Water can be found in retail stores, and has been seen in the hands of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway, the company has another target market in mind: hospitality. “We have tried to identify industries that could make a big impact on sustainability while also providing introduction and exposure to our brand’s vision,” said DeWitte, noting that hospitality is a natural fit. “Many hotels have made significant progress with making their properties more sustainable, yet hotels still use millions of bottles of water every year. We believe that we can assist hotels with their sustainability messaging by allowing them to offer a more sustainable product to their guests that doesn’t sacrifice the convenience or comfort. We see hotels as a huge opportunity to introduce our product to new customers that will appreciate our intentional design and efforts around sustainability.”

DeWitte laid out the benefits for hotels, noting the hotels this would be a particularly good fit for include those in which design and sustainability are integral. “Boxed Water is sold nationally through a number of distributor partners and we are built to support the volume of the hospitality industry,” he said. “One of the main benefits for a hotel to partner with Boxed Water is to provide their customers with a forward-thinking product that links back to the hotel’s intentional design and sustainability efforts. Packaged water is something guests come to expect in their rooms, so using Boxed Water as an opportunity to offer something different, and more forward-thinking, is a simple way to surprise and delight those guests. By offering the Boxed Water brand, hotels can showcase their own design and sustainability attributes through an additional touchpoint.”

And the benefits for guests? “They are looking for unique and memorable experiences. For guests who have not come across Boxed Water previously, this is an exciting discovery that helps to elevate the overall experience,” said DeWitte. “For guests who do know Boxed Water, it reinforces the hotels design and sustainability messages and adds to the premium experience.” HB

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