The Dripping Springs-based brand that collects rainwater and packages it to become drinking water has decided to abandon single-use plastic bottles for aluminum cans, which Richard’s Rainwater says is more environmentally friendly.


In 2002, Richard’s was the first company in the U.S. to bottle rainwater, a renewable resource that the company believes could well serve as a simple, powerful solution to the ballooning global crisis of clean water shortages. To further its goal of sustainability, those bottles are getting the boot, according to a news release.


Starting this month, all of Richard’s still water will be sold in 16 oz. aluminum cans and 750 ml glass bottles, both recyclable, while all of the sparkling water will remain in 12 oz. glass bottles.


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But that’s not all. All profits in March from sales of the new cans will benefit the Austin Parks Foundation — specifically for the purpose of "putting recycling containers throughout Austin’s 20,000 acres of green space that make up nearly 300 parks," according to the news release.


In the past two years, Richard’s Rainwater has expanded to producing more than 6 million bottles of water. The local brand is able to capture more than 30,000 gallons of water every time one inch of rain falls at any of its collection sites. (The original is in Dripping Springs.) By the end of this year, according to the release, Richard’s will be catching rainwater in three states, with plans to move onto the rest of the country.


The company, led by president Taylor O’Neil, makes sure to snag falling rainwater before it hits the ground and becomes polluted. One benefit of packaging it as drinking water, according to Richard’s, is that local water reserves aren’t drained. Plus, rainwater falls from the sky as a fairly pure product, requiring subsequent minimal filtration. In the past, Richard’s founder Richard Heinichen has called it "cloud juice."


Ditching plastic bottles has been another step toward Richard’s Rainwater’s eco-friendly mission. (Aluminum is a more valuable material than plastic to recycle. But some experts say that while cans lead to less ocean waste, they also result in more carbon emissions to produce.)


"We’re committed to continuously improving on everything when it comes to sustainability, and that means bringing our packaging up to meet the high standards of our water," O’Neil said in the release.