The Future of Bottled Water is Extended Life & Circular Economy
The future of bottled water is refillable, going well beyond single-use to alleviate the planet of the 35.3 metric tons of PET produced every year around the world. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation classifies reuse as a top upstream innovation strategy, eliminating poor upstream choices like single-use bottled water and replacing them with reusable options that reduce waste downstream. Of course, consumers want convenience and accessibility, which is where PATH comes in.
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy is an economic system that aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible and minimize waste. It is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
In a circular economy, products and materials are reused, repaired, refurbished, and recycled as much as possible to create a closed-loop system. This means that resources are kept in use and waste is minimized, which helps to reduce the environmental impact of economic activity. The circular economy has the potential to create new business opportunities, reduce environmental impact, and improve resource efficiency.
Extending the life of bottled water
Single-use plastic bottled water is one of the most overproduced and harmful materials. But a new option for the future contains the benefits of being lightweight, sturdy, highly reusable, and highly recyclable - refillable aluminum bottles. Unlike plastic bottles, aluminum bottles can be built to last for many reuses. Sturdy aluminum bottles, like PATH bottles, are more resistant to dents and scratches, making them a more durable option for active lifestyles and longer reuse.
Reusable bottles extend well beyond single-use bottled water and are a beacon for the beverage industry, allowing consumers to refill and reuse their bottles multiple times. PATH extends the life of bottled water to about 10 refills or more on average. Elevating to reusables reduces the need for the constant production of new single-use bottles, which can significantly impact plastic waste pollution caused by single-use disposable plastics. Overall, reusable bottles are a more sustainable and eco-friendly option for both the beverage industry and consumers.
Several studies have been conducted on the environmental impact of aluminum bottles. One study published in the journal Resources, Conservation, and Recycling found that aluminum bottles have a lower environmental impact than plastic bottles when it comes to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Another study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that aluminum bottles are a more sustainable option than plastic bottles when it comes to water transport and distribution. In both cases, environmental benefits increase with every refill a consumer makes.
PATH is bringing the circular economy to the beverage industry
Exploring the great potential of a circular economy in bottled water means driving innovation and efficiencies. The circular economy is a holistic system that prioritizes the responsible use of resources by designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use as long as possible, eliminating end-of-life scenarios, and regenerating natural systems.
Returnable glass Coca-Cola bottles once led the concept for a circular economy beverage brand, and in the corporate carpet space, Mohawk continues to expand its circular recycling program. When it comes to bottled water, PATH is delivering reusability and convenience to serve the circular economy. By embracing the principles of a circular economy, any company can become future-proof and provide a commitment to environmental stewardship that resonates with conscious consumers.
William McDonough and Michael Braungart outlined a vision for creating a “Cradle-to-Cradle” (C2C) product cycle in their book, Cradle-to-Cradle. This concept is based on designing products with the end of their lifecycle in mind from the start - taking into account how components can be effectively reused or recycled at the end of their useful life. Implementing this principle for the beverage industry allows materials to circulate additional efficiently within an economic system, resulting in healthier ecosystems and societies.
As businesses increasingly focus on sustainability through C2C practices, there are many ways for leaders to become role models for responsible resource reuse and adopt models that embrace the refillable future of bottled water in the office and across operations:
- Demonstrate how embracing reuse can reduce waste while freeing up resources that could be invested back into more efficient processes or renewable sources.
- Use data to illustrate how implementing reusable products like PATH is beneficial for lower operating costs, increasing efficiency, and encouraging customer enthusiasm and loyalty.
- Share stories of success from embracing circular economy initiatives through the PATH Cobrand Program.
- Emphasize ways design teams can create products with their entire lifecycle in mind – reducing reliance on finite raw materials by allowing components to be reused or easily recycled when they reach the end of their useful life.
- Make a case for reducing resources through reuse, highlighting economic benefits (like reduced costs), positive environmental impact, and health impacts.
The future of bottled water is directly tied to the principles of a circular economy, which prioritizes the responsible use of resources by designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use as long as possible, eliminating end-of-life scenarios, and regenerating natural systems.
Reusable bottles, such as PATH bottles, are a prime example of how this principle can be applied to the beverage industry, as they extend the life past single-use bottled water, reducing the need for constantly purchasing new single-use bottles, and having a significant impact on reducing waste and pollution caused by disposable plastics. By embracing the lodestars of a circular economy, any company can become future-proof and provide a commitment to environmental stewardship that resonates with conscious consumers.
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