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Special Project

Special Project
From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Rethinking Single-Use Plastic Production; Why Boxed Water is Better

Finalist in Environment & Sustainability


As the first national company to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles, Boxed Water™ has always been ahead of its time. This year, the brand pushed the beverage industry forward again and became the most sustainable brand in the category with their 92% plant-based packaging and innovative plant-based plastic cap.

Recently, the world witnessed environmental impacts due to widespread lockdowns amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Clear water emerged in the Venice canals, blue skies became visible over Delhi, and carbon emissions dropped an estimated 17%. Contrarily, sanitation protocols have broadened demand for plastic bags and untouched-sealed packaging, which has created a surge in plastic waste.  

Built on the belief that sustainability matters, Boxed Water is committed to improving the planet through each facet of the company. Water can be packaged, produced, and shipped sustainability to minimize environmental impact, all while delivering the purest quality water. As a brand that grew up in the age of social media, it has been Boxed Water’s primary communication channel and a platform to express their mission and engage with consumers. Their social media strategy is built upon user-generated content to empower their audience with information on the advantages of Boxed Water over plastic and aluminum, and empowering followers to give back to the planet in other ways.

Over the last five years, Boxed Water also engaged consumers in our reforestation mission with a long-held goal of planting one million trees by 2020. This year, Boxed Water achieved this goal and so much more.

Strategy and Execution

Fifty billion plastic bottles are produced each year. Of those, 90% aren’t recycled. In landfills, it could take up to 700 years for the plastic to break down – meaning every piece of plastic produced still exists in some way. It is Boxed Water™’s goal to create a better alternative to single-use plastic water bottles. This year, Boxed Water made great strides in doing just that through a transformed packaging initiative and long-held reforestation campaign milestone.

As noted, Boxed Water raised their package’s sustainability content to 92% plant-based by adding a renewable cap to every carton. They achieved the highest sustainability content in the packaged water category while reducing their carbon footprint by avoiding materials, like sugarcane, that take a toll on the environment through cap production. Boxed Water’s plant-based cap is derived from tree waste generated in pulp and paper production using FSC-certified sustainably grown trees. Producing the new cap has lower CO2 emissions than petroleum and sugarcane, which is specifically grown and harvested for plastic production. This is a major innovation in renewable cap production requiring years of research.  Improving on the cap keeps the product resealable and refillable while furthering the product’s sustainability. While the planet’s natural resources are now diverted to grow sugarcane specifically for plastic production, wood scraps are a byproduct of pulp. Resultingly, neither trees nor land will be used specifically for Boxed Water’s cap production. Every Boxed Water size offers a similar plant-based design, created with paper sourced from well-managed forests specifically used for paper production.

Boxed Water also supports U.S. National Forests through a partnership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) as part of “1% For The Planet,” to plant trees in forests affected by wildfire, disease and natural causes. The U.S. National Forests provide drinking water to millions of Americans, and two trees can remove one ton of carbon dioxide over their lifetime. However, one million acres are in need of reforestation. Together, Boxed Water and the NFF planted trees in areas like the Sierra National Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Now in the campaign’s sixth year, they achieved their long-held goal of planting more than 1,000,000 trees.

Boxed Water marked this milestone with a celebratory web event – In The Name of Trees – to virtually connect individuals with nature and garner awareness of reforestation and sustainability efforts in mitigating climate change. Considering COVID-19 distancing demands, the campaign connected consumers with nature in their sheltered spaces, by challenging them to name their houseplants or neighborhood trees to foster a deeper connection with the natural environment. In the Name of Trees culminated in a live web event with Boxed Water, NFF representatives, ambassadors, musicians and partners in natural spaces paying their homage to trees through naming activations. To continue tree plantings, Boxed Water invited individuals to symbolically name trees through social media posts with tags @BoxedWater and #BetterPlanet or through a dedicated webpage. For every tree named, Boxed Water committed to planning a tree in a national forest.


Boxed Water offers the highest rate for plant-based packaging achieved in the industry to date. Compared to aluminum (which is mined from Bauxite), Boxed Water is 50% lower impact on ozone depletion and smog emissions from smelting, and 33% lower impact on acidification due to deforestation. Compared to plastic, Boxed Water has a 64% lower carbon footprint (lower contributor to global warming), 43% less fossil fuel use, and 1,084% lower in impact on the ozone. Also, only 25% of plastic is recycled.

Boxed Water’s packaging is also more efficient to produce and ship. After boxes are made, they are sent flat to filling locations, so Boxed Water can fit more boxes per truckload than typical plastic water bottle companies. The positive impact is truly remarkable – what would fill 26 trucks with plastic bottles is equal to only one Boxed Water truck.

Their social campaigns and partnership with the National Forest Foundation have led to planting 1,000,000 trees in national forests and removed millions of bottles from the planet. Their partnership with Ocean Blue Project has led to numerous beach cleanup efforts.

Other notable results include:

-        More than 13 million impressions for Boxed Water’s “In the Name of Trees” campaign

-        Media coverage and awards from Fast Company, Business Insider, US Weekly, InStyle, The Skimm, Well + Good and Clean Plates.

-        Partnerships with fashion and lifestyle brands, including Conde Nast, goop, Dogpound gym, Unsplash, AG Jeans and more.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Blaze PR, Salted Stone, Boxed Water™


Entry Credits