Dash Water is a sparkling water company in the UK, founded by Jack Scott and Alex Wright in 2017. Both Jack and Alex come from farming backgrounds and witnessed the issues with food waste due to the aesthetic standards of size and shape for retail. Dash Water makes infused sparkling water using “wonky” surplus fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste, such as those that are bent, misshapen, crushed, or broken. Up to 30% of fruits and vegetables grown in the UK are going to waste and Dash Water is doing its part to combat this major issue by taking misfitting fruits and vegetables that do not meet the standards of others. As a Dash Water consumer, I was very impressed and happy with how they are using their business as a force for good, leading to a score of 2.6/3.
Dash Water’s raspberry flavoured sparkling water is made from carbonated spring water, natural flavourings, citric acid, and raspberry extract that comes from “wonky” raspberries. In 2020, the raspberries Dash Water used impressively “saved approximately 30,000 raspberries that would have gone to waste”. All of their sparkling water products include no calories, no sugar, and no sweeteners, making them a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks. Dash Water also uses recyclable aluminium cans for this product. I appreciate their use of aluminium cans because they usually contain a greater proportion of recycled content and are recycled at a much higher rate compared to PET plastic bottles.
The spring water Dash Water use comes from a third party supplier that operates 13 boreholes in Wales and England. The boreholes are monitored weekly to ensure that “the dip level does not fall below a normal operating level”. Their hydrogeological studies, including water volume, pH, temperature, and microbiological sampling, are important to ensure that the water is drawn at a sustainable rate and causes minimal damage to the environment. They also mention that there are no other companies and local stakeholders that rely on the same water source as them. This implies that their use of water for their products will not affect the water supplies for local residents or cause any potential conflicts with other corporations.
The sourcing of materials and manufacturing are all done locally in the UK and make efforts into finding suppliers near the factory, which minimises the emission that comes from transporting ingredients. One of Dash Water’s suppliers of surplus raspberry is located in Herefordshire, which is also where the factory is. Additionally, Dash Water claims that it takes less than 10 minutes for the water to flow from their water supply into the cans at the factory. In a YouTube video by Dash Water called “Dash Raspberry Farm” a raspberry grower from Herefordshire called Andrew, states that supermarkets and jam producers only want first-class, A-grade products. This causes a proportion of their harvest to go to waste, even though the drupelets of these wasted raspberries “taste exactly the same” as the ones that are sold at retail.
Dash Water adds bubbles to the freshly sprung spring water, infuses fruits, and bottles in the factory. This seems to be an energy-intensive process but the energy sources they use are not published, which raises concerns about the factory’s greenhouse emission, especially if they rely entirely on non-renewable energy. Hence, I hope to see more transparency regarding their energy usage and commitments towards improving energy consumption and sources. Dash Water claims that they provide “carbon neutral delivery” but I was not able to find details about what they do to offset their delivery emissions. On Dash Water’s Instagram story, they say that they are “building woodland” to offset the carbon emissions of delivering, which I think is a very vague and ambiguous description. How and where are they building a “woodland”? What is their progress on this carbon-offsetting project? I was also not able to find much information regarding the transportation of products from factories to retail so I also hope to see them be more transparent and make efforts to reduce their transport emissions by considering low-emission or electric vehicles, scooters, and bicycles.
In 2020, Dash Water impressively saved 145 tonnes of wonky fruit and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste. Dash Water partners with a food waste charity called Feedback to identify farms with surplus fruit and vegetables, and then they buy surplus fruits and vegetables from farmers to infuse them into their drink. Dash Water is aiming to save 2500 tonnes of fruits and vegetables by 2025. Dash Water became a certified B Corporation in 2020, with an overall score of 81.7 in the B Impact assessment. A score of over 80 implies that Dash Water meets “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Although I personally believe that B Corporation certification uses relatively robust criteria and standards, it is important to consider that the standards are not legally enforceable and can be sometimes used to assist greenwashing.
During an interview with the Challenger Project, Jack Scott was asked about their brand and missions. He said that one of the brand values is “transparency” and that they are “transparent with how we make our products, treat people within the supply chain, and work as a team”. Compared to the brands I have reviewed so far, the information Dash Water publishes on their website was minimal so I initially thought that they are being a bit hypocritical. However, I noticed that they use their social media platform very well to enhance transparency for young conscious consumers. For example, they have posted their team trip to the water source and factory at Herefordshire, which allows their audience to have a glance at how the products are made. They also posted Instagram stories capturing the Dash Water employees partnering with the Feedback campaign group to glean apples, potatoes, and blueberries that would otherwise go to waste. The collected fruits and vegetables were sent to food banks and charities through FareShare Sussex. I believe that their social and environmental initiatives are very impressive but they could be more transparent about how the product is made (e.g. energy and transport), especially since the founders claim that one of their values is transparency.