While harder stuff flowed from an open bar, celebrities and guests at the 2008 Environmental Media Awards after-party could also quench their thirst with spring water specially packaged for the event under the name the Carton Tree. No plastic bottles at this green event -- just pure Canadian spring water served in recyclable, biodegradable paper-based cartons, the kind kids' juice box drinks and some dairy products come in, with a twist-off cap. It's the wave of the future, according to Giovanna Prestes, communications manager for Tetra Pak, maker of the eco-friendly packaging.
Tetra Pak, founded in Sweden in 1952 by economist and scientist Ruben Rausing, has been in the U.S. market since 1984. It currently has a client roster including Minute Maid juices, Borden, Horizon Organic, Nestle and Hershey dairy products, Silk soy milk, soup and broth from Swanson, Emeril, Wolfgang Puck and Rachael Ray Stock in a Box, Tazo tea, Atkins shakes, and even wine, including the brands French Rabbit, Three Thieves Bandit, Vendange and Yellow + Blue.
Water in Tetra Paks has been less common in the States, but that's about to change: Brands such as H20 will soon launch here, selling in individual bottles, six-packs and cases of 18. The cost is slightly higher than plastic, but will be less than $2 a bottle.
Why has carton-packed water taken so long to catch on? Old habits die hard. "It's a process -- you have to change behavior," Prestes says, but she sees that happening. "Right now, more and more, the consumer and our customers are interested in being environmentally friendly. There's a demand from both sides."
One tree can make 4,600 Tetra Pak cartons, notes a graphic on the Carton Tree bottles that EMA attendees took home in their freebie bags. A message on the package's side drives the point home: "This Tetra Pak is all about the future," it reads. "Mainly made from renewable resources that grow back." We'll drink to that!