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In its first campaign since the brand was sold to private investors in April, Poland Spring, part of BlueTriton Brands (formerly Nestlé Waters North America), aims to further its sustainability goals and advance social good. Here’s the scoop.

Inspired to take action by the many challenges created and exacerbated by the pandemic, more people than ever are getting involved in volunteering efforts and causes for social, economic and environmental good. And even bottled water companies – who have long been criticized for their employment of single-use plastic and their role in increasing global pollution – are getting involved.

Poland Spring and its sister brands Deer Park, Ozarka, Arrowhead, Ice Mountain and Zephyrhills have today launched a new campaign entitled ‘Made for a better tomorrow’. The campaign kicks off the brands’ new ‘one-for-one promise’, a guarantee that for every person who pledges to recycle their bottle during the campaign, the brands will donate a bottle of water to communities in the same region. The initiative is designed to both elevate rates of recycling (as it stands, just 30% of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is recycled in the US) and expand access to clean, safe drinking water. It wraps October 14.

Quenching a need for environmental – and social – good

To distribute the donated bottles, Poland Spring and its sister brands are partnering with hunger relief nonprofit Feeding America, as well as a network of regional organizations including Ayuda, Navajo Health Command Operations Center and Five Loaves and Two Fish. With the help of these organizations, the water brands aim to help communities across the country that have been especially impacted by the pandemic, that are recovering from natural disasters or that face barriers to clean water access. Through its ‘one-for-one promise’ BlueTriton Brands will donate a minimum of 200,000 half-liter bottles – and up to 3m bottles.

“These donations are going to communities across the country that need it most – from the Navajo Nation in the west, where 30% of households lack clean, running water in their homes, to McDowell County, West Virginia in the east, where much of the community water has been contaminated by years of coal mining,” says Yumi Clevenger-Lee, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer of BlueTriton Brands.

The campaign kick-off also coincides with Ice Mountain’s shift to using 100% recycled plastic in its water bottles. The switch marks the last such change in the brand line-up: its other four sister brands have made a commitment to packaging water in recyclable bottles made of 100% recycled plastic. “This effort not only contributes to a circular economy where bottles are made with other bottles, but also can help keep plastic out of landfills, oceans and waterways,” BlueTriton Brands said in a statement.

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Experts say the move bodes well for sales performance too. “Consumers and governments have increasingly demanded that brands make their products sustainable,” says Duane Stanford, editor and publisher at Beverage Digest. “Brands that respond will be higher on shopping lists, especially for younger consumers.” And the six water brands backing the new campaign will certainly be looking for a boost, considering that, year-on-year from 2019-2020, Nestlé lost about 1.6% of its market share (now BlueTriton, the group still controls about a quarter of the US still bottled water market).

‘Made for a better tomorrow’ is part of Poland Spring’s larger MadeBetter sustainability initiative, the goals of which included the shift to 100% recycled plastic in still water packaging. Through MadeBetter, Poland Spring is also investing in bio-based packaging R&D in collaboration with researchers at the University of Maine, who see potential in sustainably harvested wood as an alternative to plastic.

Furthermore, BlueTriton Brands operate only bottled water facilities in the US that have achieved certification from the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), indicating that the company uses water in ways that are both environmentally responsible and socially equitable. BlueTriton works with The Recycling Partnership in its efforts to increase recycling access and education, and has also invested $6m in The Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund to support projects that help increase recycling capabilities throughout the US.

Thirsty for engagement

Created by Mission, a New York-based marketing consultancy, ‘Made for a better tomorrow’ includes animated films made for each of the six BlueTriton water brands. “From the research conducted by the brand, we heard that consumers want to take action in helping solve issues that our planet faces, but they look for leadership from brands and companies to lead the way and offer solutions,” says Katie Rappaport, business director at Mission. Rappaport says that, through animated videos made for each brand, it was able to tell the story of bringing a plastic bottle full-circle – which can be catalyzed through the simple, everyday action of recycling. 

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Rappaport also acknowledges the need to incentivize participation – while keeping Covid precautions and convenience top-of-mind. “We recognize that safe, face-to-face interaction has been challenging over the past year, so we built a digital-first, easily accessible and community-focused campaign to give people an easy way to help from wherever they are,” Rappaport says. Consumers can make the pledge to recycle their bottle by scanning the QR code on the bottle or by visiting any of the websites for the six water brands. “We believe that the campaign needed to be additive and not an inconvenience,” the spokesperson adds.

‘Made for a better tomorrow’ will be further activated through paid digital and local influencer promotion. “Now more than ever, consumers want to buy from brands with purpose and integrity,” says Clevenger-Lee. “Our consumers want to take a more active role in protecting the planet and in supporting their local communities – especially coming out of the pandemic. We wanted to leverage the power and scale of our brands to harness this momentum and make a difference, by encouraging consumers to recycle more by connecting this important habit to giving back to communities in need.”

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