Is Boxed Water Really Better?

Kind of.



In recent years, boxed water has flooded the single-use water bottle market and the shelves of chic stores alike. The company has based its brand on the self-proclaimed “environmental benefits” of its product, but is this claim true? 


At first glance, the answer to this question seems to be a simple yes. Instead of a wasteful plastic or glass bottle, water is stored in a mostly paper box, similar to a milk carton. This difference entices a consumer to choose boxed water over plastic, gaining moral value in exchange for a larger sum of money. But under closer examination, the carton is only 76% paper, the rest being various chemicals like polyethylene plastic and aluminum filament. While this is not ideal, the carton is still able to be reused and recycled, partially living up to its name. 


The main benefit of this product is in its shipment. Boxed water is transported in its flattened shape, creating a massive amount  of space to fill with more broken down cartons. These boxes are then filled on site at various distribution plants. When compared to plastic and glass bottle shipments, boxed water can transport 26 times more; a single truckload of boxed water is equivalent to 26 truckloads of bottled. This is a huge environmental advantage, as it dramatically cuts CO2 emissions.


Without having to pay for all the additional shipping, one would think that the price of the product would be cheaper, but it’s quite the opposite here. An average 16.9 oz water bottle costs around $1.50; a 16.9 oz box of water costs $2.95. While the cost of creating the boxes is higher than that of a plastic bottle, it is not a full dollar and 45 cents more. The moral incentive of purchasing a recyclable product results in a massive profit margin for the company, a cheap cheat. 


Critics of the company also point out the hypocrisy of their message. While they claim to be entirely eco-friendly, their product contributes to one of the most harmful environmental habits: single use materials.


Ultimately, it’s hard to determine whether or not boxed water really is better. While the product itself is much more environmentally friendly than the plastic alternative, shortcuts are still taken and prices are still raised. When looking at the choices available, it’s not the cheapest, but it is best for the Earth. When choosing a product, just remember: don’t believe everything, because everyone wants to make a profit.