GreenOps promotes recycling stations with plastic dresses trimmed in bottles. Photo: Roberta Cruger.
Just when you thought it was time for bottled water to fizzle out, a slew of "new and improved" waters continue to hit the market, laced with vitamins and supplements to make you smarter, chilled out, buzzed, loved or lucky. At the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California, the west coast's trade show for organic food, holistic health and green beauty, along the aisles of 1,800 exhibiting vendors displays of assorted bottles of H2O were available to sip and gulp. Among them, Aquamantra, offering a harmonious rehydration experience, announced it is launching the world's first biodegradable-compostable bottle—or so they say.
Plastics vs. glass at Natural Products Expo West at vendor's display of flavored waters.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Keeper Springs water may differ, since it's packaged in an eco-friendly PET bottle, and so may BIOTA spring water from Colorado, which claimed it was the world's first water bottled in a compostable plastic bottle derived from a 100 percent renewable resource—cornstarch (PLA or bioplastic polyactide). While some debate the merits of PLA vs. PET bottles or the Tetra Pak carton, many maintain the most sustainable water alternative is from the tap and stored in a hip SIGG bottle, Klean Kanteen stainless mug, or some other BPA-free containers.
It must be in the water
BIOTA is quick to say, "Blame it on the Altitude," referring to its anagram and a common expression in the Rockies. Though it may be the first water bottler to use PLA packaging, which may be an improvement over conventional plastics, its impressive 70-day disintegration isn't quite suitable for closed landfills, since it requires ideal conditions for its disappearing act (high heat, humidity, micro-organisms).
Aquamantra's 100 percent biodegradable-recyclable bottle hitting shelves come May, is a PET form of plastic that recycles and biodegrades within one to five years. After analyzing the options, the company chose polyethylene terephthalate, which it believes won't leach plastic and can be recycled with standard PET containers into a microbial landfill, disintegrating into an inert biomass and biogas, through an anaerobic (no oxygen, no light) decomposition.
Founder and President Alexandra Teklak states: "Microbes eat the bottle as dinner. That is welcomed news to both retailers and consumers who have felt the pressure from environmental groups and consumers who are concerned about exploding landfills bulging with non-recyclable-compostable plastics."
Considering the decline in bottled water consumption, it's understandable that water companies are scrambling for a green edge to keep business viable. However, vanishing water may be our bigger concern. With World Water Day approaching on March 22, we'll need more than reading one of the affirmations on Aquamantra's label: "I am lucky."
More on bottled water:
Greenwash Watch: "Green" Bottled Water
Bottled Water Drinkers Are The New Smokers
A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water
TreeHugger Picks: Bottled Water
Dumb and Dumber: Freakonomics on Bottled Water Bans
Cancer-Linked Contaminants in Bottled Water Says EWG
The Carbon Footprint of Moving Bottled Water