Thankyou, I love what you do but I have something to say.

As I make the shift away from everything eCommerce into sustainable business, I’ve become more and more aware of the power of business to change the world. You’re one such example of a business who strives to do good and for that, I’m grateful.

But I think you can do better.

Even though the profits you make are used to improve the world as we know it, the medium you use to do so is polluting our Earth in an unsustainable way.

You use plastic materials to contain your food, water and baby care products.

This has to change.

At this point in time, Australia is incapable of handling its own plastic creation and consumption. 30% of our waste was being exported to China and only 60% of the waste we produce is actually recycled. Most of it ends up in landfill, even when everyday people do the right thing and place their recyclable waste into the correct bins.

As laid out in a recent article in the Guardian, we are set to increase our plastic bottle usage by 20% by the year 2021. We don’t have the processes or infrastructure to handle this increase.

You directly contribute to the mess, Thankyou.

But because you are the company you are, I strongly believe you are also capable of completely changing the way we distribute water to everyday consumers.

As of right now, all water is sold in clear plastic bottles and reusable bottles are sold by separate companies. I believe these two industries should merge and all water bottle companies, starting with you Thankyou, should sell their water in reusable water bottles.

Thankyou uses plastic water bottle to change the world. I think they can do the same without the plastic waste.

Because I’m a business owner myself, I understand that there are more factors at play than just the impact of a company on the world. Business is basic economics and many would think the cost of producing a water bottle in a plastic bottle could be considerably cheaper than producing a water bottle in a reusable bottle.

I want to disprove that theory and use this post as a call-out to the only company who I know will act when they read this.

What’s the cost of producing a plastic water bottle?

  • Material cost
  • Colour cost
  • Labour cost
  • Freight
  • Printing of label costs

This is without factoring in the costs of the bottle mould (an upfront investment needed to create bottles at scale) and the operating costs of delivering a water product to retail stores around the country.

The plastic water bottle business is expensive.

Not only does Thankyou have production costs to factor in, they also have to deal with these –

The water that we use in plastic bottles has to be pumped out of the ground, packaged into Thankyou’s bottles, transported to their retailers and chilled before someone like me consumes it. This process alone produces more than 60,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year… in Australia… alone.

If you consider bottled water to be an essential, then these costs are non-negotiable and a part of being in the water business.

But what about the costs once the consumer has finished with their water bottle?

The picking up of waste and the labour costs involved to do so, recycling (or lack thereof) and the labour costs involved to do so. Finally, the cost of lining our oceans and our country with plastic bottles which take roughly 450 years to decompose.

Thankyou, you need to change.

What’s the cost of producing a reusable water bottle?

On a recent search through Alibaba (a marketplace for manufacturers around the world, although predominately focused on Chinese industry), I found reusable water bottles for US $1.89 per piece (for an order of 1000).

Given that this is Alibaba and not the cheapest way to purchase goods, I’m assuming that you could find a supplier that could give you an even better rate for 1000 bottles.

Then, factor in that you wouldn’t be purchasing 1000 bottles. 

You’d be purchasing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of bottles and paying a price according to the scale at which you purchase.

Finally, and this is the piece which I think is most important, you can increase your product price to factor in the return of the bottle.

  • Some consumers may keep the bottle and refill it from their own sources.
  • Others will return their bottles, increasing the return on your investment of the bottle as you re-use it anywhere up to 50 times.
  • You’ll also reward the consumer when they do return their bottle by returning their bottle deposit (the reason for increased prices).

This is a more complex problem than production costs

Obviously, there’s a lot more to this problem than how Thankyou can juggle their production costs and prices to make this happen.

Who processes the refunds from a financial (returning the customer’s money) and physical standpoint (returning the bottles to Thankyou)?

Are there Australian bottle suppliers who can meet your maximum bottle cost requirements? I know keeping the manufacturing in Australia is an important part of your business and one you’re not willing to compromise on.

How will you approach processing the returned bottles, ensuring they’re sterilised and ready for consumption once more?

This is clearly a more complex problem than the immediate costs of changing your bottle material. But I believe it’s a problem worthy of solving and one which you, as a contributor to our current plastic production, should be aware of and actively moving towards improving because one thing is certain –

We cannot continue to create and consume plastic bottles the way we are.

Thankyou wants to end world poverty, but at what cost?

I know that you believe as strongly as I do that commerce has the ability to change the world for good.

Having read your Chapter One book, I know your story. I know that you are tenacious and 100% committed to your mission to end world poverty. Your dedication to your mission is one of the reasons I respect what you’ve created and what you do each day.

But you are contributing to the ever-growing production and waste of plastic water bottles.

So today, I ask you to please take action –

I believe you can achieve your goal and reduce your impact.

I believe you can change the bottled water industry once more.

I believe you can change the world as we know it, with as little negative impact as possible.

Thank you, Thankyou.


Update: I heard back from Thankyou!

Thankyou responded to public enquiry in regards to their plastic water bottle usage.
Click the image to see the response I received from Thankyou about their solution to their plastic water bottle usage.

I also heard directly from the Managing Director of Thankyou, Daniel Flynn. The response and receptiveness to feedback is one of the reasons I respect this company and the team behind it as much as I do. Once again, I wasn’t let down. Thanks, Thankyou!