Two Sides interviews Rob Koenen, Chief Marketing Officer at Boxed Water about its marketing promoting the environmental features of paper products

I purchased my first “Boxed Water” a few years ago at an airport food outlet, mainly out of curiosity … being a paper guy! But when I read the messaging on the box, I thought to myself, “Finally, somebody out there gets it!” The claims were factual and accurate – but also took advantage of the great sustainable features of paper products (see photo on the right). I decided to have a conversation with Rob Koenen, the Chief Marketing Officer for Boxed Water.

The Mission for Boxed Water is: “To provide a better alternative to bottled water that allows us to give back to water and forestation foundations.”  The idea was born in April of 2009, when founder, Ben Gott, decided there had to be a better alternative to plastic water bottles. The brand is built on three principles: Better Product, Better Packaging, Better Purpose.

Phil Riebel: The messaging on Boxed Water prominently features the sustainable qualities of paper-based packaging.  How did this come about and why did the founders focus on this to brand the product?

Rob Koenen: Boxed Water was founded in 2009 with the belief that sustainability matters. We obsess over delivering the purest water in the most sustainable way.  We saw a need for sustainably packaged water after seeing the ill effects plastic was having on our planet.   
Did you know that 68% of plastic bottles are not recycled?

[1]  When you don’t have a refillable bottle with you, we are a great alternative since our carton is made from mostly paper, a renewable resource.

PR: How has the messaging been received by the public at large and those in the packaging world?
RK: Our consumers want to engage with Boxed Water. You can see on our social media channels, most of our content comes from people sharing Boxed Water in their daily life. With both the public and packaging professionals, our carton prompts discussion. The packaging industry seems to be inspired by our simple carton. From when we started in 2009, we’ve led a new category in the beverage industry with sustainably packaged water.

PR: How does Boxed Water support sustainable forestry and the environmental performance of the packaging industry in North America?
RK: The paper from our cartons is sourced from trees in well-managed forests where new trees are continuously planted to replace the ones harvested. Sustainability is also about giving back.  In addition to supporting the industry’s sustainable forest management practices, we launched our ReTree project[2] through which we have worked with the National Forest Foundation to plant trees in the Sierra National Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Our goal is to plant 1 million trees by 2020, and we are more than halfway to that goal. We’ve planted enough trees to offset our CO2 production 3 times in 1 year.

PR: Are there any next steps to improve the environmental performance of your product?
RK: We always look for ways to improve. Our mission is to change the way water is packaged, shipped, and enjoyed. We recently opened a second facility in Utah to fill and distribute our water to more areas with less of a carbon footprint. We also work with the Carton Council to advocate for more carton recycling facilities. Currently more than 60% of the country has household access to carton recycling.[3]

PR: How has the product performed compared to plastic bottles from a competitive/pricing point of view?
RK: There is a reason there are so many plastic bottles on the market; they are inexpensive to produce. People have shown that they want a sustainable option. Our water is priced at a level comparable to other premium water brands, which people purchase to make a statement. Our water allows them to make a statement that our planet is important.

Join us on social media to congratulate Boxed Water on their great message.  You can reach them via Twitter @boxedwaterand Facebook. For more, see