• Business Business

Shopper sparks debate after questioning legitimacy of popular drink company's claims: 'Is this greenwashing?'

"It sounds like basically the same thing though."

"It sounds like basically the same thing though."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Right now, more and more people worldwide are becoming aware that disposable plastic bottles are a poor choice for human health and the planet. However, many still hope for a convenient, disposable alternative. Boxed Water seems to offer that, but one Redditor is unconvinced.

What's happening?

A user on the r/Anticonsumption subreddit posted screenshots from Boxed Water's website.

"Is this greenwashing?" the user asked. "They claim many facilities are capable of recycling their cartons primarily made of plant based materials."

"It sounds like basically the same thing though."
Photo Credit: Reddit
"It sounds like basically the same thing though."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Specifically, Boxed Water listed the components of its water cartons as "92% plant-based": 66% paper, 26% plastic made from plants, 5% aluminum, and 3% plastic film. It called this combination "100% recyclable" because "most regions" in the United States have a way to recycle it.

However, in the past, eco-friendly Blueland CEO and TikToker Sarah Paiji Yoo has called Boxed Water out for these claims. According to Yoo, mixing these materials makes them difficult to separate and recycle, and 40% of the country doesn't have recycling facilities capable of doing it.

Why is it important to know if Boxed Water cartons are recyclable?

While reusable water bottles are the best move for the planet, using and correctly recycling disposable containers is the next-best thing. Many people are willing to pay extra for this possibility, which explains Boxed Water's price tag.

However, if the cartons can't really be recycled, then buyers who throw them in their bins are "wishcycling" — sending dubious materials to recycling centers in the hopes that they'll be recycled. Wishcycling can contaminate whole batches of otherwise recyclable materials.

If a company's claims about using recyclable materials are exaggerated or misleading, then that could mean people are paying extra money for something that not only doesn't help but also could actively hurt their recycling efforts.

Is Boxed Water doing anything about this?

Commenters in the Reddit thread picked apart Boxed Water's claims.

"Tetra Pak [a similar layered food packaging] is not recyclable," one said. "This is wishcycling = greenwashing."

Another user argued, "Boxed Water is not Tetra Pak."

"It sounds like basically the same thing though — paper, plastic, and foil layers … which is almost impossible to separate and recycle," the first commenter replied.

"Hydra pulping gets about 75% of the material back and there are many other methods in use and development," a third user said.

The bottom line seems to be that Boxed Water is partially recyclable at the right type of facility.

What can I do to prevent wishcycling?

First, before you buy a product such as Boxed Water, contact your local recycling facility to find out if it's equipped to handle this type of carton. If not, consider alternatives such as Liquid Death, which comes in an aluminum can — or even plain old bottled water, since more recycling centers are set up to handle plastic.

Ultimately, your best move is to ditch disposable containers for a plastic-free reusable water bottle.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider