Good water second place in world competition

19 April 2010

Steve Bowden

Dr Steve Bowden: "We're interested in the role of ecopreneurs."

A business analysis of an Auckland-based drinks company that uses “good plastic” for its bottled water has won second place in a prestigious international competition.

The annual Oikos-Ashoka Case Writing Competitions are the premier competitions of their kind, and aim to promote the development of new, high-quality case studies of real-world businesses working in the field of corporate sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

New Zealand company Good Water uses PLA plastic bottles that are completely biodegradable, and has plans to create a total biomass loop using local materials for the bottles and then recycle them into forestry seedling pottles to grow trees for future biomass to close the loop and continue the process.

The prizewinning analysis of Good Water, by Dr Steve Bowden and Dr Eva Collins of the University of Waikato Management School, and Dr Kate Kearins and Dr Helen Tregidga of Auckland University of Technology, focussed on how this small ecopreneurial business went about putting sustainability into action.

“We’re particularly interested in the role of ecopreneurs - entrepreneurs that start a business, not just to make money, but to have a positive social and environmental impact,” says Dr Bowden.

Eva Collins

Dr Eva Collins: Competition is an excellent opportunity to showcase groundbreaking Kiwi companies.

“Good Water’s CEO Grant Hall has a great goal, but not enough PLA plastic is used in New Zealand, so it's expensive to produce – and it’s not seen as economic to separate and recycle here yet. Plus the corn resin needed to create PLA bottles is imported. Our analysis looked at the challenges Good Water faces in overcoming these and other issues.”

It’s the fourth time the case-writing team has reached the finals of the Switzerland-based Oikos competitions, beating more than 30 other cases submitted from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

Dr Collins says the competition is an excellent opportunity to showcase groundbreaking Kiwi companies – in previous years another drinks business, a healthy food enterprise, and an eco-friendly funeral company have come under the spotlight. And she says the case studies really resonate with New Zealand students.

“They make great teaching tools. Most cases available on sustainability and management are on big corporates, usually from North America, sometimes Europe, and they don’t fit the New Zealand experience. Most of our students will be working in small and medium size enterprises, not large corporations. And they want to be up with the latest thinking and practice.”

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