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Cove's biodegradable water bottles will hit Erewhon's fancy-pants store shelves in December

A time-lapse photograph of a decaying Cove biodegradable water bottle lying in a pile of wood chips.
Image Credit: Cove

Cove, the new water company pitching delicious, thirst-quenching, hydration in what it says are fully biodegradable bottles, has its first retail location and will start selling at the beginning of December.

Backed by a host of celebrity names including Valor Equity, Marc Benioff, James Murdoch, Tony Robbins and Peter Rahal among others, will start hawking its bottles at high-end Erewhon markets.

Cove uses PHA in its bottles, which is made by companies like FootPrint Coalition's RWDC.

The material breaks down faster than fossil-fuel based plastic and is made from genetically engineered micro-organisms. However, while PHA is better for the environment than plastic, some people have worried that claims around its biodegradability have been somewhat overstated.

Still, having a mass market retail product made from the stuff is a step forward for the industry.

"Cove entering retail is a significant milestone for the company and it was important for us to find a mission-aligned retail partner to debut Cove. We've found that in Erewhon and are excited to take a big step forward in our mission to create a sustainable material world." said Alex Totterman, founder and CEO of Cove, in a statement.

"Erewhon will also offer a valuable end of life option for our customers by allowing them to deposit their used Cove bottles into their bins for compostables, which will then be routed to a local compost operation for biological recycling." said Totterman.

This end of life feature that Erewhon is offering actually should help Cove's bottles meet their claims for biodegradability. PHA degrades most effectively when its composted in industrial settings.

Unfortunately, right now, the U.S. doesn't have a lot of capacity to compost industrial packaging. As of 2019 only about 90 cities picked up food waste and compostable packaging for processing.

Some packaging can only be processed and composted at industrial facilities, but many facilities don't want to take packaging, because they're concerned about mixed plastic contaminating the waste stream and mucking up the whole process of making muck.

"When we were introduced to Cove, we were incredibly excited to be part of this innovative and potentially world-changing moment for CPG – the world's first fully biodegradable water bottle is something we are very proud to be launching at Erewhon," said Vito Antoci, Executive Vice President of Erewhon Markets.

The PHA in Cove's bottles and caps is certified biodegradable by TÜV Austria in marine, soil, and freshwater environments, as well as in industrial and home compost, the company said. Cove bottles and caps will compost in industrial settings within 90 days.

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