Consumers Turn to Bottled Water to Quench More Than Thirst

Better for the Environment

Countering the image of empty plastic water bottles creating an environmental nightmare, Alkaline88’s eco-friendly, fully recyclable 16-ounce aluminum bottle is now available in more than 9,000 locations across the country, with a new 750-milliliter fully recyclable and refillable white aluminum bottle set to debut. This may prove to be a shrewd move, since New Seasons/New Leaf’s Wiese observes, Sales of items in aluminum are significantly outpacing the total category results.”

Apart from the aluminum packaging options, the Alkaline Water Co.’s products are bottled in 100% recyclable PET BPA-free bottles, with all components domestically sourced and substantial use of recycled materials, and its bulk packaging already exceeds the 2022 recycling standards for the state of California.

Essentia’s new 2 Gallon Box is made from recycled corrugate and uses 80% less plastic per volume of eight 1-liter bottles. The brand’s bottles are PET-1, which is BPA- and phthalate-free, with wash-away labels and recyclable caps, and can be recycled at virtually any recycling facility in the United States. Additionally, last year Essentia achieved CarbonNeutral Packaging certification under The CarbonNeutral Protocol, the leading global standard for carbon-neutral programs.

At retail, PCC has expanded its ban on plastic water bottles to include sizes below 1 gallon, and also no longer offers plastic-flat bottled water in refrigerated impulse locations. “We transitioned those options to water in new packaging options, including paperboard, glass and aluminum packaging,” explains Owen. “So far, the response has been favorable.”

Meanwhile, New Seasons and New Leaf are focusing on more than plastic bottles. This past April, the banners discontinued sales of still water in single-use bottles of 1 liter or less. “The initiative applies to single-use bottles in plastic, fiber, aluminum and glass containers as we look to reduce single-use waste beyond just plastic,” notes Wiese. “To provide a further example, plastics, while detrimental to our oceans and waterways, can actually have less impact than other materials due to their light weight, which reduces emissions during transportation, and their ability to be reused before they are recycled. Our initiative considers the entire environmental footprint of all materials on top of the lifecycle of a package.”

He adds: “In tandem with our water bottle elimination, our off-shelf strategy has shifted and we’re focusing less on single-serve displays and more on reusable or multiserve items to align better with our sustainability efforts.”

Coming Right Up  

With regard to emerging trends, “the two biggest are in regards to sustainability in packaging and in functional and flavor benefits,” affirms Owen. “We will continue to look for ways to reduce plastics and meet shopper demand for water with added vitamins, high pH, bubbles and flavor, with no added calories.”

On the functional front, Hutchinson sees “adaptogen-enhanced, botanical, keto and probiotic as up-and-coming trends,” while in the eco-friendly realm, Mechling notes, “There is an increasing need to protect our planet and ensure products are sustainable and friendlier to the environment.”

In the wider sense, as Coon points out, “You have only one body, and consumers have a right to demand more from food and beverage brands in terms of how their ingredients are contributing to a lifetime of healthy living.”