ZenWtr, the world’s first beverage packaged in 100 percent recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic aims to offer a sustainable alternative to the conventional grab-and-go bottled waters so popular today.
Founded in 2020 by veteran beverage entrepreneur, Lance Collins, each ZenWtr bottle is made from up to five ocean-bound plastic bottles — bottles collected from Asian coastlines and major waterways in close proximity to the ocean that would otherwise end up as marine debris in the ocean — "where the likelihood of recovering them is very slim," according to the ZenWtr team.
ZenWtr launched at Whole Foods stores in the U.S. It said it is sourcing its ocean-bound PET from California-based recycler CarbonLite.
The company has obtained third-party certification from OceanCycle, an independent organization that confirms the source of the recycled plastic and the standards under which it was sourced. It is on track to rescue 50 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic from coastal environments by 2025.
ZenWtr says it spent over three years building its supply chain. The recycled plastics is sourced from at-risk global coastal environments, so "we have to plan around extended timelines for production," said Collins.
“And recycled plastic is more expensive as a source material than new or “virgin” plastic, so that’s another consideration,” he added.
However, according to the company, for every pound of recycled PET used, energy use is reduced by 84 percent and greenhouse gas emission by 71 percent. “So, for us, it’s worth it.”
From bottle, to cap, to label, ZenWtr is entirely recyclable in a true bottle-to-bottle closed loop. However, while ZenWtr bottles are made from 100 percent certified ocean-bound PET, the closures are made of HDPE. The mechanical properties of recycled HDPE do not currently allow for post consumer resin (PCR) content in closures, although new innovations may allow for up to 20 percent PCR in the near future. The closure supplier with who the company works has also been working to develop a tethered cap technology. ZenWtr intends to transition its cap designs when available.
Will the company be expanding into other beverages as well? Not yet, at least, Collins said.
“We’ve just launched this year so we’re focusing on building the brand with our flagship line of vapor-distilled, alkaline water but we are excited about the growth of the company to date and the future of the brand.”
He pointed out that next to the positive impact of recycling ocean-bound plastic, ZenWtr dedicates 1 percent of sales for the oceans, supporting credible organizations working in ocean conservation, advocacy, policy change and education.
“The larger we grow, the more good we can do,” he concluded.