hint® is working hard to reduce our impact on the environment and our use of non-renewable resources. Our top priorities with respect to packaging choices are (1) providing the safest possible packaging that is suitable for our product and customers and (2) minimizing our impact on the environment. We continue to review packaging innovation and to participate in research and development.
Plastic Bottles – the most balanced choice:
hint® bottles are made from fully recyclable PET plastic, which uses no BPA or other plasticizer chemicals. In communities that combine bottle deposits with strong curbside recycling programs, 70% of PET bottles are recycled. hint supports improvements in bottle deposit laws and recycling services and believes the system used in California should be adopted throughout the country. We also continue to explore alternative packaging and product formats. Below, we’ll let you know what we’ve done so far to improve and discuss some of the popular alternative packagings we have considered.
Innovative Plastic Bottles
We used to purchase bottles from a large manufacturer and had to transport them by truck to the bottling facilities, burning fuel and emitting carbon dioxide in the process, but today, the vast majority of our bottles (and caps) are made right in the bottling facility from virgin PET plastic. By making bottles right where they are filled, we have eliminated most of the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with the transportation of empty packaging.
Since launching our main 16 oz. product in 2007, we’ve reduced the amount of plastic in the bottle by 24% and are on track to achieve a total reduction of 40% within the next year, while maintaining extremely high-quality appearance and performance.
We’ve also moved to more advanced bottling lines that reduce waste from an industry standard of around 3% to an industry leading 0.5%. In other words, we now waste 6 times less plastic than most of our competitors. We’ve also switched from non-recyclable caps that are made with multiple materials to single-material caps that can be recycled. Now we need to get people used to the idea of recycling caps.
Cans – we don’t use them because we don’t like the chemicals they are lined with:
Recycling aluminum cans is very efficient and the cans themselves are very lightweight, leading to strong efficiency in can production. Unfortunately, the cans available in the US for beverage bottling are lined with materials that contain BPA and Styrene. BPA has been placed on the Prop 65 list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause reproductive toxicity. Styrene has been placed on that list because it is known to cause cancer. Using cans would therefore not align with our priority of providing the safest possible solution for our customers.
Plant-based Plastic – we don’t use this because they only sound eco:
We do not use plant-based plastics because they require the use of a lot of water and energy to produce and tend to be susceptible to heat damage, therefore requiring refrigeration in transit (which wastes additional resources and energy).
Glass bottles – enjoyable but not the most eco option:
We love drinking out of glass, but unfortunately, single-use glass bottles are an environmental disaster. That’s because they use more energy to produce than plastic bottles and because of their high weight, they also require a tremendous amount of energy to transport. At the end of the line, after the product has been consumed, the bottles can technically be recycled but recycling them only saves a small amount of energy used in production.
Boxed water – simply NOT better for anything:
We just started making a boxed drink for kids in order to compete in the format that kids drinks tend to use, but we need to be honest and tell you that we do not view this packaging as better than bottles. There is no evidence that boxed water is more environmentally responsible than plastic bottles. Let’s look at the claims commonly made about boxed beverage and why they are wrong or irrelevant:
1) They claim that they use mostly paper that is sustainably sourced. That may be true, but the total weight of each package is higher than plain water bottles, so the remaining material is actually quite significant. Worse, the other materials that are part of the box (plastic and aluminium) are layered into the box in a way that makes them hard to recover and recycle, and they are not biodegradable. As a practical matter, more material probably ends up in a landfill than if you just bought a plain old water bottle.
2) They claim they can fit more product on a truck because of the square shape being more efficient. This is a false claim because the limiting factor in how much product fits on a truck is the weight of the water, not how many bottles can fit into the truck. Most trucks hauling water have plenty of space where more product could fit if they were not at the weight limit. Because plain water bottles weigh less than boxes, you can actually fit more bottled water on a truck than you can boxed water.
3) They claim that they are more efficient shipping empty containers into the filling plant so they use fewer trucks to supply the plant. This is irrelevant. The vast majority of bottles containing bottled water are made right in the filling plant, so they never get shipped empty at all. Besides, who wants to drink out of a box anyway?
While all packaged goods have an environmental impact, we are confident that we’ve chosen the best solution for your health and the health of our planet and we’re committed to making ongoing improvements as new technology and approaches become available.