Southern California specialty grocer Erewhon Market on Thursday will become the launch retailer for biodegradable water bottles from Cove, a startup that says it has developed the world’s first such packaging, according to a joint press release from the companies.
The plastic-free bottles are made of natural polymers known as polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHAs, that can be broken down by microorganisms, allowing them to disintegrate after disposal instead of lingering in landfills or other areas. The announcement did not say how much Erewhon will charge for the bottles, but linked to a Bloomberg report indicating that the containers will sell for $2.99 when they appear in stores.
Cove plans to make the plastic-free bottles available online in addition to selling them at locations run by Erewhon. The startup, which is also based in Los Angeles, said in the announcement that it expects to make the bottles available through other unnamed retailers in the “coming months” as it increases production.
Erewhon, an upscale, family-owned chain, which runs eight locations in and around the city, said its decision to serve as the first retailer to sell Cove’s biodegradable water bottles aligns with its mission as an organic-focused grocer.
Cove’s backers include Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff, media magnate James Murdoch and Valor Equity Partners, which has also invested in e-grocer Misfit Market and Sifter, a nutrition technology company.
The introduction of the biodegradable containers comes amid growing efforts by governments to cut back on the use of water bottles, bags and other disposable products made from plastic, which frequently end up polluting the environment instead of being recycled. In March, countries endorsed a resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, under which the body plans by the end of 2024 to draft an international agreement aimed at promoting alternatives to plastic.
As sustainable packaging efforts from CPGs have ramped up in recent years, several have teased or announced bottles that are biodegradable or compostable. Spirits maker Bacardi said in 2020 it aims to use 100% biodegradable bottles, made with plant-based oils, by 2023. Keurig Dr Pepper announced earlier this year it is testing a paper-based compostable bottle for various drinks, such as soda and juice.
Correction: Due to an error in a press release, an earlier version of this story misstated the number of locations Erewhon Market operates. The retailer currently runs eight stores.