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Plastic Free Beyond the Bottle

As a company we talk, likely at nauseam about our plastic-free aluminum bottles.  They are after all the single most recycled packaging material in use.  Beyond the bottle and as a manufacturer we go to great lengths to keep plastic out of our supply chain and product generally.

RAIN’s primary packaging consists of two parts: an aluminum bottle and an aluminum cap.  Both are made from the highest post-consumer content of any commercially available package on the market, at times 100%.  The bottle and caps are recycled at rates up 10X better than their PET plastic counterparts.  With consumer participation in elective recycling programs, this number continues to rise.

The box we use is of course also plastic-free, those in the industry would call this “secondary packaging”.  We buy boxes exclusively from a local Atlanta manufacturer, Pratt who uses exclusively 100% post consumer corrugated cardboard.  Every inch of every box we use had a life before probably delivering the oversized Amazon box to your doorstep.  The box is expensive the same way the aluminum bottle is, a film case(like what low cost bottled water is packed in) would cost less.  Those films are among the lowest recycled materials available.  They are thin, very difficult to sort and recycle and bring very little commercial value if any to the recycling companies.

If you have been counting, we would now be to the Third layer of packaging, a pallet.  RAIN purchases only recycled pallets made from sustainable sourced regenerative lumber.  Those pallets have been used for other food products at least once, but normally three times before we use them.  Pallets are lined with another layer of cardboard before goods, that layer, you guessed it, recycled.  The boxes that our caps arrive to us in are flattened and repurposed as a protective layer on the top of the pallet before cases of water are put on top.

We do unfortunately have one dirty little secret, one we would love to find a solution to: Pallet Wrap.  Full pallets of RAIN ready to be shipped weigh almost 2,000lbs.  The water is moved around the warehouse, put on trucks and shipped across the county.  To ensure pallet integrity we wrap the pallets with a lightweight plastic film, it will almost never be recycled.  It is an operational shortcoming and one we fully acknowledge.  The operations team has searched the market and even tested alternatives, none had the performance needed to ensure protection of the goods.  There are a few “bio films” and even some commercially compostable films on the market.  Bioplastic is still plastic and “commercially compostable” means in almost all cases that its going to the landfill.  We will continue to search, but in the meantime will use plastic film.