Marketing Trumps Sustainability... Again

Its April Fools day... August Fools Day ummm...

I recently saw a snazzy look at me promo for a new "plastic saving" product. Water in a Can...

The producer, supermarkets, others with vested interests have been hailing it as a great alternative to a plastic bottle.

I'm not prone to shouting at inanimate objects, but this was one of those occasions where I started with WTF... and went on from there. My poor laptop (sorry).

**Breath** **Relax**

This product epitomised everything that is wrong with organisations failure to get to grips with sustainability and its global impact. I can only imagine (cynically) that the conversation went something like this.

"Have you seen on the TV about plastic pollution in oceans"

"Yeah its terrible"

"Lets do something about that"

*Bing* Lightbulb moment

"I've a great idea that will make us look awesome, is innovative, and avoids plastic"

"Water in a Can"

"Wow... amazing, my only concern is that we might look a bit phoney can we "green it up a bit" "

"Its ok, I've thought about that, I can shoehorn some other green positives to it"

"Great" Kerching... and now we have water in a can...

I'm feeling enraged just thinking about it. What they should have done is actually given some care and consideration about the environment, maybe a little bit of root cause analysis. Then the conversation would go like:

Aim: Reduce plastic in the oceans whilst getting people hydrated.

Consideration by the Producer

Plastic in the oceans: caused by poor disposal routes & poor consumer behaviour & too much reliance on plastics

Can we control disposal routes... no not really (out of my control)

Can we control consumer behaviour... a little maybe (we can educate / assist)

Can we provide an alternative to plastic... Yes

Outcome: Lets work on an idea that's radical and innovative.

Considerations by the Retailer

Should we consider canned water or is there a different way?

Aim: Reduce plastic in the oceans whilst getting people hydrated.

As well as plastic waste, what else concerns us (looks at risk register): Carbon Emission (recycling, manufacturing, logistics), Packaging use, Resource use,

What is the scale of these impacts (Global)

Therefore: Is bottling water a good idea? Not really, in the UK our water is drinkable, we need better not different.

Could we provide an alternative to bottled water using refillable containers? Yes

How could we give people access to water without putting more packaging (Metal or Plastic on the market)?

Outcome: Lets come up with an idea that's radical and innovative... we need a partner.

Therefore A Better Solution

So here's an idea, instead of canned water

1) A filtered water to fill your bottle (Chargeable = revenue)

2) Pre-filled reusable water bottles (metal or plastic) (Chargeable = revenue)

3) A bottle take back scheme to reuse bottles (refund on returns against more water??)

Add ons

Cordial dispensers

What are the benefits of this solution?

Innovative: Lets think about what we're trying to achieve (Hydrate people)

Low Carbon: Water purification and transmission is low carbon compared to bottled water

Low Waste: People get something useful, you can help reuse it, promote reuse and avoidance over recycling.

Behaviour Change: Giving people solutions that change their assumptions


Nothing insurmountable (wet floors, Legionella testing, cleaning regime)

Detractors... what and they don't have enough bottled water options already???!

How about trying to make this work instead of canning water... idiots.

Have you ever wondered whether what you're doing is a good idea? We can review the sustainability of your product, and even advise on alternative and truly sustainable solutions.

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