Aloha, my name is Jason Donovan. My wife Channon and I are 20 year residents of Kauai. We have an 11 year old son named Finnegan who was born and raised on this beautiful island. We are also the founders and majority owners and operators of www.hawaiivolcanic.com which is our natural, healthy, environmentally responsible beverage business that has been successfully in business here in Hawaii for more than 5 years. We started the business to make a positive difference for Hawaii, the people who live in Hawaii, and for people around the World who do not have access to clean drinking water. For more than 12 years I have personally travelled the World learning all I can about the most viable sustainable packaging options that exist including bioplastics made from plants, and even algae. Our core mission and vision is simply to Be Pono and do what’s right.
I have invested substantial time and money into this extensive research. I am very passionate about this important topic and would love to offer my experience and knowledge to those who are responsible for making the major decisions here in Hawaii that affect us all. When we first purchased our bottling plant in Hilo it was set up to bottle beverages in normal plastic PET bottles. We removed those machines and replaced with a more eco friendly re-usable glass bottle production line. We launched our business and bottled exclusively in this re-usable glass for 3 years, with pride. Unfortunately, we eventually learned that only approximately 1% of all bottled water sold in the World is sold in glass bottles. We could not sell enough volume to stay in business with just glass bottle offerings.
We then attempted to be one of the first beverage brands in the World to bottle in the new plant sourced plastics. With plant bottle prototype trials, and by watching other beverage brands try and fail, we learned that these bioplastic materials do not yet work for beverage bottles that must be sealed for consumer safety, and have a 2 year shelf life. The very exciting "plant bottles" we see on social media are made from a material called PLA (Polylactic Acid from plants) which cannot withstand the heat in shipping containers, so the bottles actually begin to melt when transported.
Bioplastics such as PLA, are also non-recyclable so if too many of these items (Including cutlery, cups, to go containers…) are put into the normal PET plastic waste stream for recycling, it will actually contaminate the PET recycling stream. Therefore, we have concluded that Bioplastics are not yet perfected or viable for any beverage bottle on a commercial scale. The good news is that all of the major beverage industry companies including Coke & Pepsi are working hard in their labs to crack the code and perfect plant/algae biodegradable and recyclable bottles. From what I understand, they are very close. This will eventually happen, but not yet today unfortunately.
We ended up adding new products to our offerings in plastic bottles that are made with a percentage of the plastic being RPET (Recycled plastic that was once another bottle) and the rest from regular virgin PET. This move not only saved our business but has also enabled it to grow into becoming the #1 premium water brand in Hawaii.
I believe the immediate solution for not only the plastic waste problem, but also for all packaging waste including aluminum cans, glass bottles, and cartons (milk and juice cartons) is not a ban, but is instead a group effort needed by Government, Industry, and communities to actually Recycle the bottles and packages that we consume in Hawaii.
Recycling does work and it is amazing. All trash should not be looked at as “Trash” but instead as a Resource because it is a resource that can be used over and over in a cradle to cradle loop.
Our company has now partnered with this amazing new environmental company in LA.
Please take a few minutes to review their very informative website and the link below to a short video that gives a tour of their new $150 million cradle to cradle 100% RPET (Recycled PET) facility they just finished building in LA, California. I toured the facility 2 months ago as it was just going online for the first time. It’s awesome and it is the first of its kind in the Continental USA. There is another one of these operating successfully now in Canada.
An IMMEDIATE solution to plastic bottles in Hawaii is for us to better collect the bottles and sort them and bale them to be shipped to LA where RPlanet Earth can right now process them into RPET flakes which can then be shipped back to Hawaii and used by companies like mine to make 100% RPET bottles, again, and again forever.
Longer term we should look at building a smaller scale RPET recycling plant on Oahu in the Campbell Industrial area right next to Pacific Allied Inc. which is the company that produces PET plastic bottles now for many bottled water brands in the State including ours.
The great news is that solutions do exist and we can together implement them right now. I am also a surfer. Interestingly, when I am able to take the personal time to explain all of this to the leadership at great environmental groups in Hawaii they all end up understanding and agreeing. We are on the same team.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email. We must all work together and quickly for the greater good of Hawaii, the people of Hawaii, and the Earth / Aina.
Founder & CEO
* Photos are of the R-Planet Earth Recycling facility in LA and also of the brand new playground we built here on the N. Shore of Kauai at the Anaina Hou community park in Kilauea. The playground is made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s amazing and will last forever, as it’s tough and bug / weather proof. Last photo is of a SeaBin in action. Hawaii Volcanic Beverages is placing an order for the first SeaBins to be installed at the Waikiki marina / boat harbor with approval from the Hawaii State DLNR.