We all know plastic is bad for our environment and with approximately eight million tonnes of it ending up in our oceans each year, it’s no surprise that according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there is predicted to be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050.
With many companies reluctant to switch from plastic, it’s hard to see how we can save our planet from further harm – until now.
In 2014, three men set out to change the way people viewed plastic and came up with an alternative to the damaging material.
Co-founder and marketing director of Can O Water, Josh White has been one of the faces behind the world’s first re-sealable canned water alongside Ariel Booker and Perry Alexander Fielding, launching into Selfridges in January 2016. Josh said:
“It was an idea between myself and two friends who came up with the concept after a holiday to Thailand. We saw how many plastic bottles were polluting the planet and realised a lot of the brands we grew up loving like Evian and Coke ended up polluting the beaches we were on. So this was something we were always talking about and became eager to change.
“The next bit was coming up with a brand and going from nothing to a product. One of the things we noticed – and were interested in getting across – is that aluminium is infinitely recyclable and in as little as six weeks it can come back as another can.”
According to Plastic Free UK, more than 40 species of fish are known to have consumed plastic which end up in our own system after consumed. Additionally, families are now throwing away, on average, 40kg of plastic annually which can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Selling over one million cans per month, Josh said:
“I think companies like Can O Water will keep growing as the word plastic is getting tarnished. People will see that the problem isn’t getting any better and that the things they’re trying to do aren’t working because the truth is a lot of people don’t care about the environment – that’s who we need to worry about. Those people are happy to buy plastic and throw it out their car window so the only way those people will change is if the government changes. I reckon within the next few years, the government and united nations will realise they need to put a tax on plastic.”
With consumers facing more pressure than ever to help tackle climate change, many businesses are also feeling the strain. Josh explained:
“Every day is a challenge – some you can’t physically get through and some you can but it just takes time. For instance, all of our cases of 24 cans are all wrapped in plastic and people will argue about it, but unfortunately, we can’t do anything as it’s down to our manufacturer.
“Because of this we had to spend a lot of money begging them to use cardboard packaging – so these are things we can overcome but there are challenges like the costs of plastic alternatives. For this what we can do is educate the consumer and buyer that what they’re doing is better for the environment and hope they will spend a little more knowing that it doesn’t cost the Earth.
“Aluminium is more expensive due to it being a commodity because it has an intrinsic value, so if you collect a can you can make money from it but a plastic bottle isn’t worth anything. The good thing about aluminium is that it might cost a little bit more, but you know it can be recycled – so it has a great story and that’s key to us.”
Currently sold in a variety of retailers including Morrisons, Tesco and Amazon, the company are continuously looking to find ways to expand the business.
“We spend most of our time building new relationships with businesses who want to go plastic-free and we’ve actually just launched into a new Mexican restaurant chain in London called Wahaca.
“Everyone was a doubter when we launched as nobody believed in the product and didn’t think we would get to where we are now. I think that’s why we’re so passionate because everything we’ve ever been told we couldn’t do; we’ve done.
“It’s things like this that make you, as a founder, excited for the next steps and I believe a brand has to have purpose these days – they have to solve some sort of solution and there has to be a reason – I think that’s why Can O Water has gone from the doubters to where it is now.”
Within recent years, there has been a rise in the number of plastic alternatives being used with people changing the way they view plastic, some completely banning it altogether.
Many people have inspired by 16-year-old activist, Greta Thunberg who has urged politicians to “listen to the science.” So with temperatures on the rise and each summer getting warmer, it’s good news businesses are understanding the message and taking action.