The Canadian bottled water industry has taken a lot of bad flack in the last few years for its alleged wastefulness of natural resources and the excessive packaging used for its products, but an ambitious bottle recycling plan announced by the Feversham, Ont.-based Ice River Springs last month may go a long way in reassessing the industry’s packaging sustainability credentials and its carbon footprint impact.
Announced at the recently-held PACK EXPO International 2008 packaging exhibition in Chicago, the scheme calls for Canada’s largest independent water-bottler to begin recycling its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers at the company’s central, 600,000-square foot facility in Feversham with a turnkey recycling plant to be installed by the Franklin, Wis.-based beverage manufacturing systems specialists Krones, Inc.
Founded in 1995, most of Ice River’s output is used to supply leading Canadian retailers such as Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Zellers, Metro and Weiss Markets with private-label product offerings, with the rest retailed across Canada under the flagship Ice River Springs and True Essence labels.
The Krones technology, which keeps the recycled PET in flake form, is said to be capable of creating food-grade level recyclate—already granted a ‘letter of non-objection’ by the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA)—while reportedly using one-third less energy than competitive technologies by eliminating as series of melting and filtering steps.
The new initiative follows a series of proactive measures undertaken by Ice River in recent years, according to the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs Sandy Gott, including the lightweighting of its plastic bottles from 16.8 grams in 2003 down to 9.8 grams by next year; introducing biodegradable films into its production process; launching paper-based drinking cartons for some products; applying geothermal chilling; installing high-efficiency lighting in its bottling plants; and planting over 16,000 new trees in the last year.
“The new Krones recycling plant, which will have capacity to recycle up to 500 kilograms of PET per hour, will enable Ice River to take in plastic bottles collected through municipal curbside recycling and to turn them into food-grade preforms,” says Marcus Mielke, vice-president and director of sales at Krones Machinery Co. Ltd. in Brampton, Ont.