Water coolers provide new outlet for recycled green PET

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: January 13, 2014 5:03 pm ET
Updated: January 16, 2014 1:57 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging Sustainability Blow Molding Recycling
Companies & Associations

Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc., at one point, simply threw away about half of the green PET bottles the company received through its recycling operations.

But now the bottled water firm is using all the recycled green plastic it can get its hands on and wants even more thanks to a decision to create 15-liter water cooler bottles from the recycled material.

Launched in Western Canada under the company's Arrowhead brand, the new green recycled PET containers aim to take a chunk out of the returnable polycarbonate container business that's now common in the water cooler market.

Green PET bottles represent about 3.5 percent to 4 percent of the weight of bales that come into Blue Mountain Plastics of Shelburne, Ontario, the recycling arm of Ice River Springs. About half of that material, historically, has been sold off to strap makers. But the other half of those Sprite, 7UP and Mountain Dew bottles simply were sent to a landfill.

"Traditionally, green has been a material I would say has been downcycled or not recycled at all," said Ryan L'Abbe, vice president at Blue Mountain Plastics.

"What we're trying to do here is find a way to reuse green flake over and over again," he said. "Instead of downcycling it, we found a way to integrate it into a bottle stream to be used over and over and over again."

Polycarbonate water cooler bottles typically are collected and refilled. But Ice River Springs wants to change consumer behavior with the new green PET water cooler bottle.

Despite its larger size compared to other plastic bottles used by consumers, L'Abbe said his company's new green water cooler bottles can be turned on their sides and crushed by foot so they can fit into residential recycling containers and not take up too much room.

"We want to find the right solution. Our belief is that we want to keep the PET molecule in motion and we want it in applications that can be used over and over again," he said.

Making a new water cooler bottle out of recycled green pop bottles, or even other used water cooler bottles, gives the green PET continued life.

"Few companies need the green plastic that we collect from our recycling operation. We have launched Arrowhead water in green bottles to make use of this plastic and take it out of landfills," CEO Jamie Gott said in a statement.

Ice River Mountain makes most of its money by selling lots of bottled water, often under private labels. More than 100 million cases a year.

About half of the plastic used for those water bottles is recycled, and some retailers use 100-percent recycled content bottles in their products. Others are more comfortable using a blend of recycled and virgin resin.

"The big challenge for us and the same for other PET reprocessors is there's just not enough baled material available out there. Our CEO has been pretty clear in saying there's enough plastic on the planet today for us to use," he said.

"The challenge," L'Abbe said, "is how do we convince customers, when they consume that water bottle, to get it back into a curbside collection system or a collection system of some sort?"

Ice River Springs, in 2011, said it became the first bottled water company in North America to make its own resin using 100-percent recycled plastic. The process used to clean and then purify recycled PET flake into food-grade resin has been approved by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Green water cooler bottle preforms, weighing 305 grams and made from recycled resin, are made in Shelburne and shipped via rail car to a company bottling plant in Calgary.


Comments

Water coolers provide new outlet for recycled green PET

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: January 13, 2014 5:03 pm ET
Updated: January 16, 2014 1:57 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Dow Chemical sees potential for PE growth in packaging

March 30, 2015 1:17 pm ET

The packaging market continues to provide growth for the polyethylene business of Dow Chemical Co. — which is a good thing, since the firm will ...    More

Image

Sipospack to build new flexible packaging plant in Hungary

March 30, 2015 9:38 am ET

Hungarian flexible packaging producer Sipospack Kft. is investing nearly 3 million euros ($3.2 million) in an expansion at a new site at Sóskút in...    More

Image

Flextronics launches global injection molding, tooling unit

March 26, 2015 4:29 pm ET

Flextronics International Ltd. (Booth S34125) is officially launching Precision Plastics, a global injection tooling and manufacturing unit, as a...    More

Image

Kautex showing off an extrusion blow molding machine at NPE

March 25, 2015 6:00 am ET

After 80 years in business, Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH officials know good old-fashioned word of mouth is often the best way to reach more customers.    More

Image

Fabri-Kal to expand its sustainable packaging with new Idaho plant

March 20, 2015 2:03 pm ET

Thermoformed packaging company Fabri-Kal Corp. plans to tap into Idaho's farming community to expand its sustainable packaging program.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events