Surely there’s a bottle out there made entirely of biodegradable material that produces zero toxic waste? Before 2019, there wasn’t.
Previous “recycled plastic” and “plastic-free” bottles are more eco-friendly than single-use plastic but they’re partly made of metals or synthetic plastics, and sometimes both. These alternative bottles need to be taken apart to be recycled, a process many recycling plants aren’t equipped for. Hence, they’re not sustainable in the long-term.
Luckily for us, London-born Alex Totterman has dedicated his career to combat plastic pollution. Alex worked at a UK-based nanotechnology company and created a water filtration system of his own with a bold goal to replace plastic bottled water in homes. It was high in demand but with deeper research, he realised the filter wouldn’t make enough of an environmental impact. After all, the convenience of buying single-use plastic bottles on the streets remained.
Alex kept working behind the scenes to develop a new solution. Come 2019, he’s set to launch Cove – “the first bottle of water made entirely of biodegradable material”. This 500ml cylindrical bottle is made of a PHA or polyhydroxyalkanoates body (complex molecules naturally found in nature) and a paper tube that doesn’t disintegrate like paper straws. No plastic, no metal, no glass – it skips the recycling system entirely. Plus, it’s filled with spring water from Palomar Mountain, California that’s known to be high-quality. To replace plastic bottles, Cove is also matching affordability to minimise lifestyle changes – a box of 12 costs US$12.
This idea is remarkable enough for billionaire internet entrepreneur Marc Benioff and mega self-help guru Tony Robbins along with other notable investors to put their dollar behind it.
So how does Cove work? This bad boy’s shelf life is six months, best kept in the fridge. When finished with the bottle, it’s recommended to throw it in a composter to biodegrade the fastest, or else a regular bin would be fine – for some other alternative bottles, it wouldn’t be fine. Cove is estimated to take five years to biodegrade in soil, and much sooner in compost, landfills, and the ocean. Compare this to the hundreds and thousands of years it takes for a plastic bottle to disintegrate into smaller pieces with its raw material never really disappearing.
To shift people’s perspectives on themselves and the environment, Alex’s vision is to free society from “numbing statistics and lofty rallying cries about saving the planet” and instead connect with people through art, architecture, and fashion. Here’s social media proof – we’re expected to see some exciting artist collaborations. It’s in this cultural movement that Alex believes there’ll truly be a measurable impact on single-use plastic bottle production.
Cove will officially launch at select California stockists on February 28 and those elsewhere can sign up to be notified about availability. Cove will also keep the manufacturing as local as possible.