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10 most sustainable bottled water brands

10 most sustainable bottled water brands?

What are the top 10 most sustainable water bottle brands in the world? Can bottled water even be sustainable? 

Tap water is always going to be the most sustainable option followed by filtered water. Therefore always avoid bottled or packaged water if you can. Use a refillable water bottle when you are on the go.

But in case you have to buy bottled water then here’s a guide to which brands and type of bottles you should buy.

First of all. Let’s look at the questions you should ask about each packaged water brand:

Is it a recycled or reusable bottle? 

The plastic in our oceans could circle the planet 400 times. It is threatening marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change. About 54 percent of plastic bottles are recycled (according to the bottled water industry). In 2018 less than 20% of the content of new bottles came from recycled material. If you are going to buy a plastic bottle, buy one with a high recycled content. Glass bottles are perceived as more sustainable but they are actually only better than single use plastic if the bottles are reused at least 3-4 times. 

Is boxed water more sustainable? 

Packaging water in a carton is better if your alternative is plastic or glass bottles — probably. The high paper content is a good thing: Trees are indeed renewable, while petro-plastic is not. Water-in-a-box does score a clear win on climate impacts because of its lower transportation-related CO2 emissions. Boxed Water trucks empty cartons to its filling stations packed flat, fitting 26 trucks’ worth of containers into a single truck — better than plastics can do. But as always there is a but. Source: https://grist.org/living/is-boxed-water-actually-eco-friendly/

Most carton water brands rely on a combination of paper and other recyclable ingredients, like plastic and aluminum, that are seen as more sustainable, but this does not eliminate the problem of waste. That’s because only specialized facilities are able to recycle these materials, and many cartons will therefore still end up in landfills.

Source: https://www.mashed.com/218494/the-shady-truth-about-carton-water/

Is the bottle shipped from overseas or across the nation? 

Transportation is a big part of the CO2 footprint of bottled water. Therefore we cannot include Fiji water shipped from Fiji to the United States among the top 10 most sustainable bottled water brands. Generally local brands score better in terms of sustainability simply due to transportation.

We looked at over 200 bottled water brands and picked out the 10 most sustainable based on the following criteria.

  • Bottle material – glass, PET, other plastic, aluminium or tetrapak (equivalent)
  • Reuse and recycling 
  • Water source and extraction
  • CO2 footprint – Initiatives by the company / brand to offset carbon footprint, material and water waste
  • Transportation – where does it come from, where is it sold and what transport metod is used 

Then we we gave each parameter a rating based on the following scale

1 – Very big negative impact

2 – Big negative impact

3 – Negative impact but attempts to improve

4 – Neutral environmental impact

5 – Positive environmental impact

Based on this analysis here’s the top 10:

10. 365 Everyday Value Spring Water from Whole Foods (US)

Whole Foods own spring water brand may not seem like a sustainable alternative at first instance. They don’t even market it as sustainable. But it’s locally sourced which makes a big difference in source, transportation and carbon footprint. If Wholefoods could just offer it in reusable glass bottles it would be an even better alternative. 

Material: 1

Reuse / recycling: 2

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 2

Score: 12

Website: https://products.wholefoodsmarket.com/product/365-everyday-value-bottled-spring-water-b8dd96 

9. RightWater 

100% recyclable aluminum cans that are also free from BPA to make them suitable for consumers who might be weary about unwarned ingredients in their water. The water is sourced from protected natural springs located in California and packaged in-state before being inspected by hand before leaving the factory. The product is packaged using biodegradable pallet wraps and boxes to further reinforce the plastic-free packaging ethos. The RightWater brand is part of the Zero Plastic Movement that was founded by Simon Konecki.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 2

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 3

Score: 14

Website: http://drinkrightwater.com 

8. Dasani (Coca Cola)

Dasani is another big brand that has made a push in making bottled water more sustainable.  beverage packaging and to reduce the environmental footprint. Recent innovations include HybridBottle, PlantBottle and PureFill. HybridBottle uses up to 50% plant-based renewable material and recycled PET plastic. The greatest innovation is PureFill but with just a few hundred such water dispensers across the US it’s unclear if this is a real commitment or greenwashing (link: https://www.plasticstoday.com/packaging/dasani-makes-bigger-splash-bottled-water-sustainability

). Therefore our assessment is based on the Dasani HybridBottle now available across the country. Dasani is produced from municipal tap water and packaged locally where possible.

Website: https://www.dasani.com/

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 2

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 2

Score: 14

7. Mountain Valley Spring Water

Mountain Valley is one of the older brands in our comparison but their advantage is use of reusable glass bottles. Although single-use glass bottles are perceived as better than plastic they are generally not due to energy used for production, weight and recycling resources. In addition to the reusable bottles Mountain Valley also puts a great effort into sourcing the water sustainably and investing in protecting the local environment. On the negative side the door delivery service of glass bottles seems wasteful in terms of transportation and CO2.

Material: 4

Reuse / recycling: 4

Source: 4

Transportation: 2

CO2 offset: 2

Score: 16

Website: https://www.mountainvalleyspring.com

6. Highland Spring

One of the first bottles made of 100% recycled PET plastic and fully recyclable. Bottles made of 100% recycled PET are currently limited to 50 and 75 cl though and not the larger sizes. Highland Spring is sourced in a sustainable way and also investing in rail freight to transport the bottles in an environmentally sustainable way and reduce carbon footprint. Most bottles are sold locally in the UK avoiding long transportation.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 3

Score: 16

5. Poland Springs

It’s not only challenger brands and smaller brands that are making efforts in sustainability though. Nestlé Waters North America has committed to making 50 percent of its water bottles out of recycled PET by 2025, with an interim goal of 25 percent by 2021—roughly four times the amount of rPET it uses today. Its Poland Spring brand will use 100 percent recycled plastic by 2022. Nestle also has a company wide goal to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 through packaging innovation, renewable energy and agriculture. This excludes CO2 offset and emission reductions. Source: https://www.nestle.com/ask-nestle/environment/answers/nestle-climate-change 

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 3

Score: 16

Website: https://www.polandspring.com/ 

4. Richards Rainwater 

Rain water is mostly naturally clean today unless you live in a heavily polluted area, and when harvested as it falls, requires significantly less processing. The closed loop process by Richards Rainwater allows them to clean 100% of rainwater with virtually zero waste. Richards Rainer mainly uses glass and aluminium bottles with the goal of always recycling or reusing.  

In addition to this they are dedicated to building local, low energy rainwater capture centers as close to our customers as possible. The company’s stated goal is to “always be the most sustainable bottled water company on earth”.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 5

Transportation: 2

CO2 offset: 3

Score: 16

Website: https://www.richardsrainwater.com/ 

3. Just Water 

The bottles, which are fully recyclable, are made of 53 percent paper; the rest of the bottle is made of plastic and a small amount of aluminum. Only bottles excess water that the local community doesn’t need and pay fairly for the water used. The JUST water carton represents a 50% reduction in global warming potential compared to an average weight 100% PET plastic bottle. On average, 52% of the JUST water package’s weight is made up of paperboard. By using wood fibers as the main raw material it minimizes the need for materials made from fossil fuels. The materials are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council guaranteeing that the wood based products purchased come from responsible healthy forests.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 4

Transportation: 4

CO2 offset: 3

Score: 17

2. Waiakea Springs

Waiākea is one of the only bottled waters to already use high-grade 100% RPET, or post consumer recycled PET, for all of its bottles. RPET is post-consumer recycled plastic and has a considerably lower CO2 footprint than both glass and TetraPak (carton) based on the sources we’ve found. Waiakea is also certified as net carbon neutral. This is done through a combination of improved material sourcing, manufacturing, distribution/transportation and end of life management. The entire CO2 footprint from sourcing, materials, manufacturing and transportation is offset 100% of carbon emissions by an equivalent amount of CO2 saved by a verified emission reduction project.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 4

Score: 17

Website: https://waiakeasprings.com

1. Boxed Water

Similar to Just Water Boxed Water but now made to 92% of plant based materials. Over the past couple of years Boxed Water has run a social media campaign resulting in over 1 million trees being planted and thereby offsetting much of its carbon footprint related to production and transportation. Sustainability is part of the mission. Boxed Water also works with Ocean Blue with the goal of cleaning up 3000 miles of beaches. The water is sourced regionally (currently two locations) from municipal water to avoid long transportation.

Material: 3

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 4

Transportation: 4

CO2 offset: 4

Score: 18

Website: https://boxedwaterisbetter.com/ 

Disclaimer: 

The analysis is based on information found about each of the brands and companies on the internet. We have not spoken to any of the individual brands or checked that the information is correct. Tap water is always the most sustainable option so avoid bottled water if you can.

Other big brands analysed

The following big bottled water brands were also analysed on their sustainability but didn’t make the top 10 list.

Glaceau Smart Water – Coca Cola

Coca Cola markets Smart Water as bottled water with electrolytes including ionized minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Basically the minerals you find in most tap water. This is not very surprising considering that Smartwater is manufactured by distillation of public tap water locally in each market. 

SmartWater has been using up to 30% plant based plastic in some of the bottles. Coca Cola claims this has avoided the CO2 emissions equivalent of taking nearly 1 million vehicles off the road since 2009. Since introducing PlantBottle, Coca-Cola has allowed non-competitive companies to use the technology and brand in their products –from Heinz Tomato Ketchup, to the fabric interior in certain Ford Fusion hybrid sedans.This is a net positive. But in 2019 

Coca-Cola announced its GLACÉAU Smartwater bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic (rPET) by 2020.

Material: 2

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 3

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 1

Score: 12

Website: https://www.drinksmartwater.com/ 

Pure Life – Nestle

Pure Life is manufactured in two locations for North America and then shipped across Canada and the US for consumption. The biggest controversy has been the extraction of so much water from the small village in Aberfoyle, Ontario. Considering that Pure Life is primarily purified municipal water it’s not really much of a sustainability issue.

Nestle has also worked on improving the production processes, which now uses 1.94 liters of water vs 3 liters on average for other brands. This makes Nestlé Pure Life one of the more environmentally efficient bottled beverages from a water waste perspective.However, PureLife currently uses normal PET.

Material: 1

Reuse / recycling: 2

Source: 4

Transportation: 3

CO2 offset: 1

Score: 11

https://www.nestlepurelife.com/us/en-us/sustainability

Aquafina – Pepsi Co

Aquafina is bottled from local municipal tap water sources and goes through a purification process that incorporates reverse osmosis, ultraviolet, and ozone sterilization.Reverse osmosis in particular is generally considered a water wasting filtering process.

PepsiCo has 40 bottled water production sites around the US to cut down on the distance Aquafina travels from plants to stores and customers. This is probably the most locally produced brand.

Aquafina claims to be more sustainable by cutting down the PET plastic used in their bottles by 40% since 2005 but so has every other water bottle brand.

Material: 1

Reuse / recycling: 2

Source: 4

Transportation: 4

CO2 offset: 1

Score: 12

Website: https://www.aquafina.com/en-US/sustainability.html

Fiji – the Wonderful Company

Fiji Water is a brand of bottled water derived, bottled, and shipped from Fiji.

Fiji water is currently using a 25% rPet bottle and has committed to increasing to 100% rPet bottle by 2025. Due to criticism investments have been made in renewable energy but in proportion to the total carbon footprint it’s marginal.

Fiji Water has also established a foundation to provide water filters to rural Fiji communities, many of which lack access to clean water. Once again however, it’s proportionally a very small investment considering the population that lacks water access. 

Material: 2

Reuse / recycling: 3

Source: 2

Transportation: 1

CO2 offset: 2

Score: 10

Website: https://www.fijiwater.com/ 

Notes  and other runner-ups:

Zephyr Hills Water

https://www.zephyrhillswater.com/sustainability

Nirvana premium natural spring water 

Primarily focused on the sustainability of the source of the water. 

https://www.nirvanawater.com/100-sustainable

People Water 

Marketed as the bottle that is eco-friendly and seventh is simply putting the company name “People” on the bottle. The last two components actually have to do with the water itself. Eighth, People Water states that they only use 100% natural spring water. The final component is that the water remains Bisphenol A (BPA) free.

The main goal of the company is to provide clean water to people who are in need of it similar to Tom’s shoes.

Bankrupt. 

Aquacarpatica

More data:

Source: https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/trend-reports/brand-loyalty-eco-friendly-bottles-and-mineral-content-10-charts-explaining-uk-attitudes-to-bottled-water/597238.article

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