JUST Brands CEO: ‘It’s not just about having a bottle made out of paper’

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Along with updated packaging, JUST will be introducing organic flavor-infused water in carton bottles in Q1 2018, CEO Ira Laufer said.
Along with updated packaging, JUST will be introducing organic flavor-infused water in carton bottles in Q1 2018, CEO Ira Laufer said.

Related tags Bottle Recyclable materials

JUST Brands' CEO believes paper has untapped potential in the bottled water packaging market as it is growing at a faster rate than plastic bottles, which has spurred the sustainable consumer goods company to launch new SKUs in Q1 2018.

JUST Brands introduced its first product, JUST water, in 2015 and now has a distribution reach of over 15,000 retail locations including Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Stop & Shop, and Wawa.

JUST Brands CEO Ira Laufer told BeverageDaily that the company will be launching a line of organic flavor-infused waters early this year and that it will introduce additional sizes of its carton water bottles in Q1 2018.

Since launching over two years ago, JUST has evolved its packaging materials to be more sustainable and received a B Corporation Certification late last year becoming a “B Corp.”  


JUST water's carton bottles are composed of 54% paper from certified forests, 28% plant-based plastic, 15% traditional plastic, and 3% aluminum.

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet “rigorous”​ standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

“The process took almost a year,”​ Laufer said. “It’s not very common within water brands, but it’s definitely a growing standard.”

Packaging differentiation

JUST said its carton packaging has a sustainable advantage since the material and process used to make the carton results in 74% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to producing PET plastic bottles.

Its recyclability, however, is just the same as most plastic and glass bottles, it added.

“Our product is not biodegradable, but we’re not claiming it to be​,” Laufer told BeverageDaily. “We’re still not quite there.”

Working with Tetra Pak, JUST water’s packaging is made from 82% renewable sources including a shoulder and cap made from sugar cane-based material.

“From a visual perspective, obviously we want something that’s really disruptive, but it’s not just about having a bottle made out of paper,”​ Laufer said.

JUST water’s sustainable features go beyond its packaging to the drinking water it sources, reflected in its updated packaging.

JUST sources its spring water from Glen Falls in northeastern New York State, a small town in need of revitalization due to many years of struggling to maintain services without large tax increases causing a 25% decrease in population loss since 1950.

“We pay six times the municipal rate and that money goes back into revitalizing the city,”​ he said.

Opportunities outside of retailers

Retailers make up a sizeable portion of JUST water’s sales, but they are not the company’s focus on gaining consumer awareness, according to Laufer.

“Where we see the biggest growth is other partnerships with zoos and aquariums (in addition to eco-friendly hotels and airports),”​ he said.

For example, Houston Zoo recently suspended the use of all plastic packaging and carries JUST as its primary bottled water.

“Retailers are important for us but there are other endless opportunities,”​ Laufer added.

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