Steve Emery wants people in the bottled water business to know there is a different way.
A way to be environmentally minded and profitable at the same time.
A way where recycled-based packaging helps set the tone for sustainability.
Culver, population 1,300-and-some, is an out-of-the-way place in Oregon and home to Emery's EartH20 brand, which sells its bottled water throughout the Northwest.
The company, while small by some standards, is a big employer in the little town.
“We've been in the bottled water business for a long time and our vision has been to change the industry,” said Emery, CEO and co-owner. “Ours is to set a pathway to show other companies that it can be done and hopefully they duplicate what we're doing.”
EartH20's location is no accident as the company sources its water from the Deschutes Valley Water District's Opal Springs, which has a reputation for purity.
“It may be as old as 2,000 years old. When we bottle it, it's the first time it's seen sunlight in a long, long time. The water is a great story. The company is a great story. Our sustainability initiative is a great story. It fits in really well as the whole puzzle goes together. You can't have one without the other,” Emery said. “We're a natural spring water.”
EartH20 has enjoyed a two-decade history of providing bottled water, but the company's sustainability journey with its packaging only has been evolving in recent years.
The company used to have empty bottles trucked to its plant constantly, first virgin resin bottles and then, about four years ago, 100-percent recycled content bottles.
It was then about three years ago that the company invested in blow molding machines and started buying recycled PET preforms to cut down on transportation. Another year passed before EartH20 made another investment to start making its own recycled PET preforms.
Now the company has said it has gone even further this year by being able to source recycled flake from Orpet LLC, a St. Helens, Ore.-based plastic recycler that reprocesses post-consumer PET captured through the state's bottle bill program.