Choose Water develops biodegradable alternative to plastic bottle

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

03 August 2018

The drinks industry’s movement for environmental sustainability and responsibility extends well beyond the much buzzed-about ban on plastic straws. Imbibe has explored a variety of ways that bars are stepping up their sustainability, including saving energy, reducing fruit and garnish wastage and shifting attitudes around packaging.

This latter approach is the mission of Choose Water, a bottled water company that is developing a new biodegradable alternative to the plastic bottle.

When James Longcroft founded his bottled water business three years ago, he started with typical plastic and glass packaging. From the beginning, he donated the profits to Water for Africa to provide clean water for communities in need.

‘The idea was to take what can be seen as quite a wasteful industry and make a positive change,’ explained Longcroft. ‘But I was wonderfully, blissfully ignorant about the impact that the plastic was having on the oceans and the environment as a whole.

‘It wasn’t like I was an irresponsible consumer – we were producing thousands of these bottles a week. I quickly realised we are the problem, producers are the problem, and it shouldn’t just be down to consumers. So we decided to go plastic-free.’

Longcroft set out to design a new kind of packaging. The outside is a paper casing, and the inside is lined with waterproof natural materials that break down when completely saturated.

After smashing a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, his efforts caught the attention of Sky Ocean Ventures, the media company’s impact investment vehicle. With backing from Sky, Longcroft intends to roll out Choose Water to both the on- and off-trade by the end of the year.

But Longcroft sees the potential for Choose Water’s packaging to extend beyond his own brand, and even beyond the bottled water industry.

‘We are undergoing testing at the moment, especially acidity and carbonation testing,’ he said, discussing the packaging’s potential to hold other liquids.

‘We don’t want to sit on this technology completely for ourselves because we would have very little impact on anyone. After we’ve launched and proved the concept we’d like to get it out to other bottlers around the world who can use it as well, and we can make a real dent in the plastic in the ocean.’

An increasing number of bars and restaurants are turning to more sustainable practices like using locally-sourced ingredients, serving drinks on tap and implementing recycling programmes. Longcraft looks at Choose Water as another way to build a business that’s better for the environment.

‘Every business has an obligation, I think, to try and move away [from plastic and glass] and become as sustainable as possible,' he said. 'A lot of people are more conscious about their plastic impact, but there just isn’t the alternative yet.’

To learn more about stocking Choose Water, visit

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