What do beverage brands Body Armor, Fuze, and Core have in common? They were all started by founder Lance Collins—and the last was ultimately sold to Keurig Dr. Pepper for $525 million. Three successes later, Collins has started a new bottled water brand, ZenWTR.
ZenWTR features a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle, made with ocean bound plastic. And it’s currently on track to rescue 70 million ocean bound bottles in 2020, according to the company.
Now, ZenWTR is in all Whole Foods locations in the United States and in over 4,000 stores nationwide. Even still, the company has largely stayed quiet.
Curious to learn more about ZenWTR, I recently sat down with Collins. We chat about what makes his new company different from all the other water bottle brands out there. Then, we discuss why he actually hopes there will be more competition in this market.
What makes the ZenWTR process environmentally-friendly
While ZenWTR bottles feature recycled plastic, it’s quite different from the industry standard. “rPET (a strong recyclable material) incurs a premium for materials of about 15-20% over virgin plastic (traditional plastic),” Collins tells me.
“And the production process when using recycled plastic takes more time, adding complexity to operations (even more so when using ocean-bound plastic),” he adds.
Despite the extra operational work, Collins believes the benefits of 100% recycled bottles are evident, especially from a sustainability perspective. He says ZenWTR uses “75% less energy and produces 71% fewer greenhouse gas emissions versus using virgin plastic.”
Beyond the bottle, ZenWTR sources all water locally in Southern California. That helps the company lower its carbon footprint and emissions, Collins tells me. Additionally, ZenWTR “reinvests 1% of all sales in cleaning up marine environments through a network of trusted charity partners and organizations,” according to the company.
Competition in this space can help build a more sustainable future
Being the first bottled water made from 100% certified ocean-bound plastic is a big competitive advantage, but ZenWTR encourages competition.
“It’s ZenWTR’s mission to help clean up coastal environments around the world
and we’d be thrilled to see other companies implement a similar supply chain to provide more sustainable solutions and join us to ensure the sustainability of our oceans,” Collins tells me.
“We feel that there’s plenty of plastic available to recycle and we should all work to reuse what’s already available, especially because producing a bottle with recycled rPET uses 75% less energy than producing a bottle from virgin plastic.”
Collins says embracing the benefits of sustainable materials for water bottles can become a win-win for manufacturers and the planet.
While costs prevent many companies from being able to adopt sustainable alternatives today, Collins believes that can change. When more companies begin to use recycled plastic in supply chains, “the increased scale and volume of operations will bring costs down for everyone.”
Jalen Xing is a Writer at theRising and the co-founder of Students For Hospitals. You can pitch him stories at jalen.xing [at] gmail [dot] com.