San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Eco water

Eco-friendly bottled water company to sell Costa Rican spring water

Carlton Solle’s 12 years living in Costa Rica changed him.

Born and raised in environmentally friendly northern California, Solle never got what the big deal about the green movement was. Then he moved here.

“You don’t really see how things like access to clean water, agriculture and deforestation all connect living in the U.S.,” Solle said. “Down in Costa Rica you see it.”

With a history working for beverage companies like Red Bull and Rockstar, Solle began thinking about how he could mitigate the negatives in disposable packaging. After four years of development, Solle launched Treeson, an eco-friendly bottled water company with deep roots in Costa Rica.

Treeson’s water comes from a natural spring in Braulio Carrillo in Heredia. In the project’s initial phases, the bottles will be created in Costa Rica and shipped to the U.S.

In addition to being completely biodegradable, Treeson’s bottle is also designed to break down into clean energy. Each bottle comes with a mailing label attached. Once the bottle is empty, it collapses and can be returned by mail to Treeson’s factory where they use the recycled bottles to produce the energy to operate the factory.

“A lot of eco-products are more expensive and they don’t follow through,” Solle said. “We wanted to develop our own system that would empower people to know that by buying the product they are actually doing something.”

Taking accountability one step further, Treeson also promises to plant a tree in Costa Rica for each bottle of water they sell. Buyers can track their trees through the Treeson app, which shows the location and growth process of each tree planted. Solle has already planted 38,000 trees bordering Manuel Antonio National Park, on the central Pacific coast.

To fund the project, Treeson has launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter, where the company hopes to raise $95,000. The money would go towards finishing the bottle molds and the first round of production. In the beginning, Treeson water will only be available through direct orders in the U.S., but Solle hopes to expand to retail stores in the months following their launch. The water will cost about $1 a bottle.

By September, Treeson should also be available in stores in Costa Rica, perhaps helpful to the 25,000 Heredians currently on water rationing. Expanding to Costa Rica, however, brings the added challenge of dealing with the country’s little-used mail system. To combat this problem, Solle is developing a program where people can return their used bottles to retailers.

Watch their video here:

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Carlton, Don’t listen to the negative posters.

Here in Costa Rica plastic trash is literally killing this country. As an avid mountain biker in the Central Valley, I am very familiar with the roadways. From the highways to the remote dirt mountain roads, the Central Valley and surrounding mountains are literally choking in plastic trash…..especially discarded plastic bottles.

Simply awful to witness some silly kid on a bus or worse a reckless adult throw a used plastic bottle out a bus or car window. Complete disregard for the environment is rampant in Costa Rica. That is the hard truth. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a rich culture and amazing people, however everyday she loses a bit of her beauty, due to the reckless companies here who don’t care what happens to the plastic that holds their beverage.

Also better environmental awareness needs to be taught to the young kids, who hopefully take their wisdom home to educate their families. One less adult throwing a bottle out a car window is a success and a step forward in the right direction.

Carlton you are doing an amazing thing. My family and I want to thank you for your concern for the environment, especially your willingness to plant a tree HERE in Costa Rica.

You business plan has a great deal of merit and promise here.

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Mike Poynton

I think this product is genius. I’m old enough to remember all of the push-back from the naysayers about recycling in the 1970’s. Where are they now?

Besides its biodegradability and the fact that it goes in the mail and can piggy back with all the other mail already being transported (in the US, anyway) the other thing I like about this product is the energy recovery factor. Part of the energy used to make the bottle is recovered to produce energy to make new ones. So there is less net consumption involved in produce the bottle – a bottle that if it doesn’t end up in the trash, won’t stay around in the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Someone please explain to me how this concept is not BETTER THAN RECYCLING PET?

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Why not just use Recycled PET plastic to make your bottles? R-PET will soon be manufactured here in Costa Rica at a new state of the art bottle-to-bottle facility that has just been completed. We can now turn our old PET bottles into 100% recycled food grade ones with a carbon footprint closely competitive with PLA plastic. One of the disadvantages of PLA plastic is that it actually biodegrades very slowly in oxygen starved land fills and can contaminate the current plastic recycling process.

Recollection is indeed the big issue but I wonder what will the postal services say about turning their post boxes into recycling bins? If any small amount of beverage is left in the bottle it could water damage other mail, seems risky.

I mostly applaud you for your commitment and efforts in reforestation, ultimately that is what will make the real environmental impact.

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snake oil sales..on the rise

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Honest: an American understands something about the environment???Investments in Costa Rica whould be for Costa Ricans, not for the US- Market. Plastic is garbage! Not more. Learn from Europe!

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R Jewell

So where do you want consumers to put “biodegradeable” bottles after they’ve enjoyed your product? The trash? The street? plant it in a forest?

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There is only one truly Eco- friendly container… Glass

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John W.

I can’t get a shower and we’re going to export water!?

Thank you, CAFTA. Thank you, free trade. Thank you for helping Costa Rica manage its resources.

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I prefer biodegradable bottles to PET and we need to start somewhere if governments don’t regulate plastic bottles business. guess the lobbies are doing a good job.

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Mike Poynton

Exactly, Boris. Everything to lose and nothing to gain with PET. Nothing to lose and everything to gain with biodegradable.

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Why not ship in glass bottles and award refund when returning bottles. we never had plastic bottles in the 70s in Germany and yes, carrying those bottles was a chore. then came a smart ad showing unbreakable plastic bottles and the PET bottle took the world and oceans by storm. keep going.

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Carlton Solle

to address a couple questions that have come up I guess or things that were not clear in the article

1) Our plan was to only to do the first production run in Costa Rica for the Kickstarter campaign because that is where I developed the process, formula and the product and because we have still been finalizing deals with U.S. co-packers/ sources. But things are moving along quite nicely with copackers here so that probably wont even be a concern.

2) As far as the mail system in CR and other countries that dont have a similar mail infrastructure as the US we have created our own CRV type of system where we convert the cost of the mail piece into a cash incentive for people to return their bottles to retailers

3) All of the trees we are planting will be in Costa Rica to start. We have developed an app that allows you to actually get a picture of the actual tree and its gps coordinates so people will be able to insure they are planted the app also lets you see the amount of energy you helped create with the bottles you return & provides and overall environmental impact snapshot as well as incentives for more sustainable choices, i.e. riding your bike instead of driving your car, etc.

4) In the U.S. we have to start with one return facility but that will hopefully quickly turn that into several regional facilities all at the actual sources so everything from return & processing into clean energy used to make new bottles will be handled at the source. We are working on some bulk collection equipment to be placed in retail locations for possible on site processing
and other bigger pieces of equipment for down the road which would eliminate any return transport. One that could sit outside retail locations, that would convert our bottles & possibly other packaging into gas on site to be packaged into tanks that could be taken home to be used for cooking.

5) The municipal water is great in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, in many other countries in Central and South America that isnt the case. So bottled water isnt a choice it’s a necessity. You give one of the uber refillable water bottles to a kid in a bad neighborhood in Honduras and hell sell it as scrap metal to buy some chips, a bag of water and a coke. The packaging for all which you will probably later find discarded on the street or in the river beside his house. Why? Two reasons, because the river has been polluted for so long that it has lost its value. Second, because the packaging discarded has no value.

How do you change that? You clean up the river & return it to its natural state by getting rid of the trash & planting trees to help clean up the water. So it once again has value and you give the bottle / packaging value.

Bottle = One Tree. Bottle = $. Bottle = Power. This is a Central American scenario but the same applies in many places in the US.

Unfortunately tap water isnt an option. Like in Texas where now in many places tap water is catching fire. You cant drink it. Bottled water isnt a choice its a necessity. So all the anti bottled water folks might want to start to think about the reality that the majority of the world actually faces on a daily basis verses the luxury of a choice that a limited few have. If a solution only works for 2-5% of the world I am not sure if you can even call it a solution. We are in the business of developing real solutions.

Its important to remember that we are all connected & even more important for folks to start acting like it. Sorry for the long post if anyone here wants to ask anymore questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. We have a lot of pretty incredible stuff in the works but we need your support to help make it happen. This campaign is just the beginning.

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Just what Costa Rica needs, to outsource their fresh water to Americans who have clean tap water. Its a great way to use fuel to move a natural resource that is available in abundance to the location you are moving to. Please send more wood, meat, and if you could find a way to send us air, we would really love it, we have some, but we also have money to buy yours. Thanks.

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One thing many people don’t realize is that in order to recycle those bottles, the chemicals many companies use just to clean them are harmful for the environment.

Even if they become trash, they are Bio-Degradable.. they will degrade in the trash….

Either way better than what is out there now.

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R Jewell

Biodegradable bottles?! BAD idea. Why not just put it in recyclable bottles? Degradable bottles interfere with the recycling process for “normal” PET and they become trash.

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