ESG: Guide to Ban Single-use Plastic Bottled Water for Your Corporate Sustainability Initiative | PATH

ESG: Guide to Ban Single-use Plastic Bottled Water for Your Corporate Sustainability Initiative

Corporate sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives are increasingly crucial for profitable growth companies. Future-proof brands understand the importance of investing their energy and finances in the right direction. In a recent consumer product industry outlook report, Deloitte broke down these sections into five core areas that profitable growth companies invest in the most.


5 Areas Profitable Growth Companies are Focused

Profitable Growth Companies

All Other Companies

Keeping up with changing consumer demands is a priority



Current environment provides an opportunity to grow share 



Pursuing vertical integration as a strategy



Increasing the level of transparency provided to consumers and other stakeholders 



Prioritizing ESG - Agree becoming more environmentally sustainable is a priority



Source: 2023 consumer products industry outlook


Companies are under pressure to reduce their environmental impact and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. One area of opportunity to reduce significant amounts of company waste is eliminating single-use plastic, like single-use bottled water. 

Sustainable bottled water demand

Consumers want bottled water. As of 2021, bottled water became the top beverage of choice in U.S. history, clocking 15.7 billion gallons of water, surpassing soft drinks' all-time reach of 15.3 billion gallons per year, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation

At the same time, consumers want more sustainable options. Nearly 95% of people surveyed said they believed their personal actions could help reduce unsustainable waste, tackle climate change, and protect wildlife and biodiversity, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

The problem with single-use plastic bottled water

Carbon emissions. Bottled water has become the drink of choice, preferred by 70% of people, according to The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). Single-use plastic bottled water has become a boardroom and office staple. However, the trouble remains that single-use plastic significantly contributes to pollution. The production of plastic requires fossil fuels and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions from single-use plastic production are counted under Scope 3 emissions, where vendor related emissions are reported.

Waste. It's not just the emissions; waste metrics for single-use plastic bottled water run high, and their end-of-life fate must be accounted for. The consumption of plastic bottled water is also a significant contributor to waste. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 50 billion plastic water bottles are used each year, and only 23.5% of these are recycled. This means that 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as litter every year in the U.S. The environmental impact of this waste is significant. The production and disposal of single-use plastic bottled water requires large amounts of energy and water which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

How many single-use plastic bottles of water does your corporate office use annually? Even if recycling practices are implemented, the majority of PET plastic, 76.5%, does not get recycled. The majority of plastic bottles often end up in landfills or as litter, and break down into microscopic pieces, never truly decomposing in the sense that we understand the term. According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Report, only 9% of all the plastic types produced globally have been recycled. The rest has ended up in landfills or the natural environment.

The benefits of replacing plastic with reusable aluminum bottled water

Improve company culture. We know that companies switching to reusable aluminum bottled water can help staff develop positive habits and increase sustainability as part of company culture. Reducing corporate environmental impact on waste and carbon emissions translates to better sustainability metrics. 

Better supply chain practices. In its production and disposal, aluminum has a much lower environmental impact than plastic. The production of aluminum requires significantly less energy than plastic, and aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without losing quality. In fact, according to the Aluminum Association, 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today.

Reduce costs and waste. Reusable aluminum bottled water also has financial benefits. Historically reusable bottles were more expensive to provide employees than single-use plastic, however now, with PATH, prices are more competitive with single-use. In addition, companies can save on waste management costs by reducing the amount of plastic and bulk they send to landfills.

Steps for implementing a company ban on single-use plastic bottled water

We've seen great success with company bans on single-use plastic. Orangetheory, the revolutionary fitness studio dedicated to transforming client lives, has implemented a single-use plastic bottled water ban. Leading the way for our staff and employee means making it convenient for them to switch from single-use plastic bottled water. Here are some steps for success:

  1. Document current single-use bottled water usage to report before and after metrics. You can use bottled water invoices or delivery slips; try to locate an accurate starting number. 
  2. Develop a plan and timeline for the transition away from single-use plastic bottled water. Determine how the switch will be implemented and what resources will be needed. You can elevate your ban with Co-brand Partnership Support from PATH. Communicate the plan to employees and stakeholders to ensure buy-in and support.
  3. Communicate the reasons behind the switch from single-use plastic bottled water to reusable aluminum PATH with internal marketing or newsletters and external communications such as press releases and social engagement posts.
  4. Provide PATH reusable aluminum bottles to employees and encourage their use. You may choose to supply bottles at food service stations and other convenient campus locations, making them readily available to staff and guests.
  5. Work with operational staff to establish additional refill stations for clean, fresh water throughout offices, production lines, or other sites where refill stations may be necessary or beneficial for employees to drink clean water. 
  6. Develop incentives for employees to make the switch, such as awards and prizes when they are seen using their own reusable bottle that can be tracked through tap payments or RFID tags attached to them if desired. You can also supply employees with PATH Pure faucet filters to help drive the #refillit mission home. 
  7. Establish an education and marketing program within your organization focusing on environmental responsibility and the impact of single-use plastics. Emphasize any specific objectives your organization may have related to sustainability goals and social responsibility efforts that support reduced waste plastic waste pollution. Encourage a refill challenge and highlight the health habits of drinking more clean water throughout the day at work.
  8. Add your waste and carbon reduction metrics to your ESG or sustainability report and any other noted improvements in employee well-being and sustainability initiative participation. 

Best practices for documenting company metrics on single-use plastic

Number one, you want to set goals and objectives for the environmental impact you plan to make. Frame it like an ESG goal; perhaps your goal is to reduce overall single-use plastic waste or improve employee access to clean drinking water.

Once these objectives have been established, it's important to come up with a system for monitoring and measuring progress against these objectives to determine success or failure. This could be done with an automatic refill station calculator. It's also important to ensure that all data collected is accurate and reliable so that any improvements can be verified through appropriate documentation. This can be done by training operational staff on proper recording techniques, leveraging automated tracking systems, and auditing the process regularly through manual spot checks.

Use the data collected to make informed decisions regarding sustainability improvements and create reports that measure performance over time while providing clear metrics on progress being made. These reports should establish baseline measurements, such as the total amount of single-use plastic bottled water used before the transition, and current performance metrics to examine how effective the policy change has been.

Partnering to save the planet with PATH

Take your brand sustainability to the next level with a professional PATH cobrand. The PATH design team with create the perfect design to showcase your brand's commitment to saving the planet. Join the ranks, and become a partner.

Get inspired by other brands that have reduced or eliminated single-use plastic bottled water with PATH: Intuit, San Francisco Airport, and Orangetheory


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